Archive for the ‘Contentment’ Category

Living in the Present, Gratitude, and Contentment

Friday, April 10th, 2015


A few weeks ago, I was thrown for a loop when my son told me he’s applied to graduate a semester early, next January instead of a year from June.

That should be great news, right? But then after a couple days it hit me: I’m living alone now, but then I will be truly alone. My older son hasn’t even visited since he graduated from college.

Since then, it’s occurred to me that it could be worse: He could move back in with me. But my main thinking was that with all due respect, married people who complain about Empty Nest Syndrome don’t have a clue what a *truly* empty nest is like.

So I was having trouble thinking that way, and I’ve written about that already. But I thought it was funny what finally snapped me out of it and had me happy and content and joyful: I cleaned my bathroom!

It was the day before Easter. It was my day off, and I was having a super-productive day. As I cleaned my bathroom, I couldn’t help but notice how *much much much* more pleasant this task was than it used to be when I was married.

There’s a verse in Proverbs about how when the ox is gone, the stable is clean, but from the strength of the ox comes an abundant harvest. Married people reading this, the ox is well worth it! I don’t argue with that for a second.

However, as a single person, with no ox in the stable? Well, why not rejoice in the clean stable?!!

A wise teacher, Christel Nani, has pointed out that a good way to live in the present is to practice gratitude. When you’re thankful for the present, you’re not filled with regret or nostalgia about the past, and you’re not worrying or wishing for the future.

I think besides being grateful, we can actively enjoy things that we won’t be able to do so easily if our circumstances change — like clean the bathroom!

Later that same evening, I played Brahm’s Requiem — about Resurrection — and sang along to the alto part. I could sing as loudly as I wished, and it didn’t bother a soul. I could pour out my heart in praise to God, and not worry about bothering anyone.

Today’s my day off, and I decided to enjoy my wonderful lake. I walked around it and took some pictures of the beginning blossoms. I love my condo-by-the-lake. The truth is, if I ever marry again, I will probably want to live somewhere larger. It’s perfect for a single person, and fits my son well when he’s in town — but if my family were bigger, I’d probably want a bigger place.

So I am thankful that *today* I can enjoy the benefits of this wonderful home by taking a walk and enjoying the blossoms.

Tonight, I’m going to go to a gaming group and play some Eurogames. I love doing it, but it does take several hours on a Friday night. I love hanging around super smart people and exercising our brains and having a great time. Tonight I’m looking forward to listening to an audiobook during the long drive there and back, as well.

And the truth is, if I were in a relationship, I might not want to give so much time to this activity I enjoy so much. While I’m single, though? No problem!

A couple of years after my husband left me, someone made the mistake of complaining to me that her husband didn’t give her sex often enough. Oh my, I was angry with her! Please don’t remind me what I’m missing! By the same token, though, married people, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that your spouse won’t necessarily always be around. There are some wonderful things about having that person in your life today, even if they aren’t perfect. And who is?

So that’s my reminder to myself for today. To help with contentment — rather than thinking about what you don’t have and wish for, especially look for things you are privileged to enjoy *now* that you won’t necessarily be able to enjoy if your life changes.

Reading to Children

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


Yesterday I posted about reading Fox in Socks for our library’s Seussathon. (I also read The Sneetches and Other Stories, Horton Hatches an Egg, Green Eggs and Ham, and Mr. Brown Can Moo… Can You?)

Reflecting about my long history with Fox in Socks also reminded me how completely part of who I am is a delight in reading to children.

My Mom taught us to read before we were in Kindergarten. But the fact is, with the younger kids, we older ones had a lot to do with that. I learned at a young age that the process of watching a small child learn to read is next to miraculous. And I wanted in on it.

So as a kid, I learned both that being read to is cozy and warm and loving and wonderful, and that doing the reading to a younger child is the same.

Then, of course, I read to my own sons. I married a man who had a wonderful reading aloud voice, and read to the boys as much as I did. (Did I love that about him? Did I actually fall for him when we were reading Winnie-the-Pooh out loud in a group in college? Um, yes I did.)

Now my boys are grown, so there’s no one at home to hold in my lap and read to.

So how lucky am I that I get to do this on my job?!?

Mind you, I’m an introvert. Too frequent programs burn me out fairly quickly. However, the perfect thing about it is that as a manager, I don’t do many programs myself — just enough that I still love it.

Bottom line, I get to read books to children. And I get paid for it. I am a lucky woman!

Thanksgiving Letter

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

I decided to send a Thanksgiving Letter this year, rather than a Christmas letter. I have much to be thankful for!

The big thing that stands out for the year is my new home! With my Dad’s help, I purchased a condo in South Riding, less than 10 minutes from my church. After another place fell through, at just the right time for me, this home came open — with a beautiful view of a lake! I feel so blessed living here.

I’m thankful for church friends who made me feel so cared for and helped me through the moving process.

I’m thankful that my sons are doing well. Tim is a Sophomore at the College of William & Mary and enjoying it. He’s declared his major — English and Computer Science. His Dad lives near Williamsburg, so they see each other during the school year, and I get Tim for his vacations. He recently heard about some exciting Study Abroad possibilities for next year. Of course I would have to go visit!

Josh is still living in Portland, Oregon, and now has a salaried job as a computer programmer, which he’s enjoying very much. I’m so happy for him!

I’m thankful for a place to walk. With my lake to hike around, I’ve been much more regular about exercising than ever before, and I’m treated to beautiful scenery, including a great blue heron.

I’m thankful for my job. I’m still working at City of Fairfax Regional Library as Youth Services Manager and still love my job. I’m also going to be a Cybils judge (Kid Lit Blogger awards) again this year. And, yes, I’m on my 13th year of writing Sonderbooks book reviews and still love it.

What else am I doing? Plenty of mathematical knitting, like this prime factorization blanket for my niece, and regular board games with a group that meets Saturdays close to the library. Life is full, and life is good, and I’m so thankful for what this year has brought me!

May you have a blessed holiday season!

Sondy Eklund

An Opportunity To See What God Will Do

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Today’s sermon resonated with me on several levels.  Our pastor spoke about giving and generosity and money — a very timely topic, since I expect to lose my job in a few months and don’t know what I will do.  I also have filed for divorce and don’t know how the settlement will turn out.  So lots of reasons to worry about money, right?

Pastor Ed spoke from I Timothy 6:6-19 to point out two big lies we believe about money, that hinder our generosity.

Lie #1: We think our provision depends on what we do.

If we depend on ourselves, we’re proud.  Even when we worry because we think we haven’t done enough, we’re showing pride, thinking it’s all up to us.

We shouldn’t be like antique collectors, but like a well-appointed distribution center, accepting gifts from God and passing them on to others.

Lie #2:  We believe that we would be happier if we had more resources.

We put our hope in wealth.  We think we aren’t doing so, but our actions say otherwise.  And that’s foolishness.  Wealth is so uncertain.

Here he talked about putting our hope in our own plans.  He talked about how God gave our church a wonderful piece of property, and we planned to pay for a building by selling two outparcels.  But then the real estate market tanked.  However much we were disappointed is however much we were putting our hope in our plans and not in God.  And then we forget to thank Him for His abundant provision — the gift of the land in the first place.

God’s will often is dynamic.  He often doesn’t show us the whole picture right at the start.  We need to walk with Him step by step.

That part of the message resonated beautifully with what God’s been telling me about my divorce.  As I said in my last post, I felt it was time to file for divorce.  But I still worried if I was lacking in faith, not trusting God enough.  Didn’t God tell me, and confirm and reconfirm, that He was making my husband a leader and a witness, and one day our marriage would be restored?  I prayed about it.  I thought this was the right step, but how could filing for divorce be following God’s leading?  Was I just lacking in faith?

Then one day, when I was reading in Hebrews 11, a phrase jumped out at me from the part talking about Abraham sacrificing Isaac.  He did that even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”

If Abraham had been thinking like me, he could have said, “I’m really sure that God told me I’m going to have many descendants through Isaac, so I must be hearing Him wrong about this sacrificing Isaac.  How could that work?”

Hebrews 11 says that Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.  Abraham had to give up his own plan about how it should happen.

As Pastor Ed emphasized today, my hope should be in God, not in my own plan.  Surely God can resurrect my marriage, but if so it will be through His power, not because of any plans of mine, or any stubborn holding onto my marriage even though my husband has left.

As for my job search, all the rest of the sermon related to that.  I did not get the Assistant Branch Manager position I had applied for at my last posting.  I now have four applications out there for four very different positions.  I don’t know what my chances are for any of those positions.

But as I think about the future, I will not be afraid.  My last three jobs have been complete gifts from God.  (No, pretty much every job I’ve ever had has been that.)  It’s not like God’s going to abandon me now.

I’m bolstered up by two Truths Pastor Ed pointed out from the Timothy passage.

Truth #1:  Our provision comes from God, and that’s where we should place our hope.

Truth #2:  God richly provides for our enjoyment.

Don’t get so caught up in my own plans that I forget to enjoy and thank Him for the many gifts He’s already given!

And that kind of attitude enables me to be generous with what God has provided.  God asks us to be generous, because that’s who we truly are, that’s how we will live “the life that is truly life.”

So, it was a beautifully encouraging morning.  Instead of seeing my probable job loss as a tough trial I’m going through, the sermon reminded me to see it as a wonderful opportunity to see how God is going to provide.

Journeying On

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I had a lot of uncertainty at the end of 2009.  It started with headaches that lasted for weeks.  Then came news that I would probably lose my job.  My husband was to retire from the military soon, and I didn’t know what that would mean for him paying child support.  My Dad had a heart attack.

Well, life goes on.  And we get through!  And God is faithful.

First, my Dad is up and around and recovering.  I got to see him over Christmas, because he bought my son and me a plane ticket to California.  What a treat to see my family!

I had a neurology follow-up appointment on Friday and got to report that I haven’t had one headache to speak of in the month of January!  It’s amazing how much freedom from pain helps my outlook!  I went back on a preventative that I used for about a year three years ago — and it’s working beautifully.  I am so pleased.

As for my marriage, I was right.  My husband’s retirement does mean he’s planning to cut child support.  And it turns out I can’t get half the marital portion of his retirement unless there is a court order, which I can only get in a divorce.

So — I’ve decided to file for divorce.  It was a hard decision to come to, but I feel better and better about it, that the time is right.

Part of what made it difficult is that I truly believe that God has told me that my marriage with my husband will be restored some day.  That I am not supposed to look for a replacement man.  It’s a matter of obedience, for my specific situation, from the specific guidance God gave me.

However, I also believe that God has told me that I need to let my husband go.  That when he comes back to God it will be because of God’s work in his heart, and not anything I have done.

I also have to let go of my fantasy that he will come back because of his loving, forgiving wife who puts up with anything.  There are many laws protecting women in my situation — but only if I invoke them by filing for divorce.  If I just put up with getting along with what my husband sees fit to give me, it doesn’t increase his respect for me.  He concludes that he is right, that that is all I deserve.  It is time to respect myself enough to say that’s enough, that our 23 years of marriage deserve some respect.

Though I admit I wish it hadn’t come to this.

That leaves the job situation.  And this week, I applied for a promotion, for a Librarian III position.  I hadn’t thought I’d be eligible, since I am only a Librarian I, but my boss encouraged me to apply, and when I looked into it, sure enough, I do qualify.  And Librarian III’s are not going to be cut if the proposed budget cuts go through, so that would mean I’d keep my job, get to stay in the public library, and get a pay raise.

I brushed up my resume on Wednesday to get my application in before it closed on Friday.  In the process of doing that, I convinced myself I can do the job, which is the first step!  Although I only have two years experience as a full-fledged librarian, I maintain that my eight years at Sembach gave me a wonderful variety of experience that would apply.  And my ten years teaching math, while not exactly supervising, is still that same type of experience.  So we will see if I can convince them!

But either way, the experience interviewing will be a great thing.  It was also wonderfully therapeutic to focus on my good points and my abilities!  Gave me something to think about that was not the divorce!

It also reminded me how many times God has brought my way the perfect job at the perfect time.  I have been very blessed.  I do not need to be afraid of what the future will hold.

Best of Lists and NaNoWriMo

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

So the end of the year is approaching, and everybody’s coming out with their best of the year lists.

I have to admit that I hate that!  How can you say what were the best books of 2009 when 2009 isn’t over yet?  And of course that would be to admit defeat — to admit that I will not, in fact, finish reading all those great books that are piled at the foot of my bed clamoring to be read.

So, I make my Sonderbooks Standouts lists in the following year.  The years that I was really on top of things, I printed my list on January 1st.  But that was awhile back! 

For my list of the best books I read in 2006, I decided to copy the Newbery Medal and call the list the 2007 Sonderbooks Standouts, since I was making the list in 2007, and I didn’t want it to sound horribly out of date.  Besides, 2007 was practically over by the time I got that list made!  So my list of Standouts goes from 2001 to 2009, but it looks like 2006 is missing whereas really 2009 is missing — does that make any sense?

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is almost done, and I got just slightly slightly more caught up on books I’ve read and want to review.  At the start of the month, there were 35 books waiting to be reviewed, and this morning, there were 30, so I made a tiny bit of headway.  At this moment, there are 31, and I think by the time I go to sleep there may be 33, so it’s not actually great progress.

I did not get very close to the 50,000 word goal for the first draft of a novel.  However, I did experiment with the reckless, brash way of writing through a first draft.  I think I work better with more of a plan — The Weekend Novelist approach of writing key scenes first.  However, with the particular book I was working on this month, I had tried that approach and reached a dead end.  This was like a month of brainstorming that gave it new life.  I think I will spend the next two days printing out what I produced and write out a scenario of what I’ve got, and I think I can come up with a plan for writing that I can really get excited about.

I’m happy that I did NaNoWriMo.  It shook me up.  Reminded me that writing is fun, and that creative juices flow better if you spend more than 15 minutes at a time.

For 2009, I had a New Year’s resolution of writing for at least 15 minutes every single day, and I kept it almost perfectly.  Probably only missed about a week’s worth of days (actually more days this last month, when I had that nasty headache — but I was writing a lot more on the other days, so it was okay).  But I was getting in kind of a rut with that.  I was revising a book I finished a long time ago, and it was getting kind of mechanical, a bit of a drudgery.  I’m hoping I can get back to that book with a bit more excitement now.

So, here are my goals now:

I’ll still keep a word count for the last two days of November.  Let’s see.  For writing plus blogging, I’m up to 30,772.  Think I can write 10,000 words on each of the next two days?  Hmm.  I’m not so sure!  So that won’t be part of the goals.  Here are the goals:

1)  Write up a scenario for the novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo.  All the writing I did got a little incoherent, but some things were coming together.  I’m going to write it up so I can come back to it after December.

For December:

2)  Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!  I want to review all the books I read in 2009 so that I can make my Sonderbooks Standouts lists right at the start of January.  It would be nice to scoop the Newbery and the Printz!

3)  For December, I am going to experiment with a goal of writing on my book for 30 minutes a day, instead of the 15 minutes a day goal I had for 2009.  If it seems do-able, that will be my new goal for 2010.

4)  I want to finish rewriting my earlier book by the end of December!

And then start looking for an agent!  It’s time to SELL that book!  (The Mystical Mantle is a middle grade novel about a princess whose father offers her hand in marriage to the person who wins a quest to gain the Mystical Mantle of Meteorology from the Obstreperous Ogre.  She decides to win the quest herself so she doesn’t have to be a prize.)

I now have four books in different stages of completion.  Unicorn Wings, my first novel, is sitting in a drawer, chalked up to experience.  The Mystical Mantle is being rewritten.  A retelling of One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes is in first draft, and my NaNoWriMo novel is in early shaping stages.

But, see, NaNoWriMo got me to that place.  Before I was slowly, slowly revising The Mystical Mantle, so some day I was going to get back to Duet’s Story. (“One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes” is an awfully long name.)  NaNoWriMo at least showed me the charm of working on one project for a specified period of time!

So, here goes!

And I’m also getting satisfaction out of reporting my progress in this blog.  I always did get a kick out of checking things off, and it has that sort of feel to it.  🙂

So, two days left in November.  I have both days off.  In those days my plan is to somehow consolidate what I’ve written on Dear Diary, my NaNoWriMo novel, so that I can come back to it after I’ve finished rewriting The Mystical Mantle.  I also hope to get as many reviews written as I can and try to get the to-be-reviewed number down to less than 30.

Oh, one other lovely thing about NaNoWriMo is that it transformed what was potentially an awful month into an actually good one!  This is my seventeenth straight day with a headache.  In my worst moments, I’d like them to just hook me up to an IV and make me sleep through them.  Now, mind you since Thanksgiving it’s mostly been a lot less severe.  But still.  This has given me something to be very interested in, something to remind me that life is very very much worth living.  Life is good!  That’s what writing does for me.  And NaNoWriMo reminded me of that.

Betty Crocker Cookbooks, Fudge, Pictures, and Home

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I have two bright red Betty Crocker Cookbooks.  One is copyright 1972.  It has lots and lots of smudges.  Especially on the page for fudge.  Oh, how many times I tried to make penuche (brown sugar) fudge, without the nuts of course. 

What I made tasted wonderful, but it was never quite right.  Always just a tiny bit grainy or maybe a lot grainy.  Oh how I agonized over that recipe.  You have to stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.  Was the sugar dissolved yet?  Of course I had to lift the spoon out and feel it with my finger and see if I could feel sugar and see if I could taste sugar grains.  And of course with a gas stove defining medium heat was a little tricky.

Then there was 234 degrees on the candy thermometer and the soft ball test.  Did it have to be a precise ball?  Of course, after the cooking, you had to cool it down, and then mix “vigorously” until it was “smooth and no longer glossy.”  How glossy is no longer glossy?  How vigorous is vigorous?

As an adult, I bought a book on making fudge but I don’t think I ever did make it again.  Incidentally, it said that humid weather is great for making fudge.  I wonder if that was our problem in California….

Then, a few months ago, much to my own surprise, I tackled a recipe for cinnamon brittle.  I followed the candy thermometer and waited and waited for it to get to the right temperature — and took it off the heat the moment it did — and the candy then proceeded to incinerate!  I learned that maybe my thermometer measured a little low.  And thought some day I should try something easier, something softer on my teeth, like fudge….

Yesterday, I cooked a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for my son and me.  For Thanksgiving dinner I pull out the Betty Crocker cookbook I bought with the gift certificate we got as a wedding gift, copyright 1986.  It’s also bright red, but in loose leaf with a wipe-clean cover.  It’s where I go for my two very favorite Thanksgiving recipes — mushroom stuffing and candied sweet potato slices.  Mmmm, I love that stuffing recipe.  It’s basically celery, onions and mushrooms fried in butter and mixed with bread cubes and some spices, but yum yum!  I do dutifully fix it early and stuff it in the turkey, but the truth is I like best what I just cook in a dish on the side.  I really need to cut the recipe in half or a quarter, because I never ever stuff such a huge turkey — but there’s no leftovers I like better!  And I don’t make it any other time, and it keeps well, so what’s the harm in it?  Yep, I stick Handel’s Messiah in the CD player and start chopping celery and onion and mushrooms and it’s holiday time in my heart!

And then, of course, the candied sweet potatoes.  As I was mixing the brown sugar and butter and cinnamon, I got to thinking:  How is this any different from fudge?  I’ve really got to make fudge….


Last night as we were sitting down to pumpkin pie, my husband arrived to get my son for the weekend.  (We had expected that traffic would make him later than usual, but I suspect he got off work much earlier than usual, because it was the earliest he’s showed up in a long time.)  So I have a grand and lovely weekend all to myself.

And this morning I woke up to find my headache of fifteen days actually mostly gone!  It’s making little visits, but is mostly leaving me in blissful, happy, glorious freedom!

So, what could I do?  I decided it was time to MAKE FUDGE!

And the crazy thing?  That fudge came out absolutely positively perfect!  It is melt-in-your-mouth not a hint of graininess magnificent brown sugar fudge. (Excuse me.  I need to make sure I’m telling the precise truth.  Yep.  Creamy. Fudgy.  Delicious.  Mmm.)  Now, remember how I learned that humidity helps with fudge-making?  Well, today was definitely humid.  But I feel a little bad for my poor child self.  If that’s all there was to it, how come it was so hard for her?  (But, boy was I glad I learned that lesson about my candy thermometer — I stopped cooking before it got to 234 degrees because it did, in fact, pass the soft ball test.  I’m glad I did!)  Now, I did plenty of testing, but probably not, in fact, as much as my child self used to do.  So maybe there’s something in that.

Anyway, now alone in my house with a pan of absolutely perfect fudge, two questions remain.  The first is will my headache be able to stay away if I ingest that much sugar?  The second is will there be any left for my son to taste when he gets home Sunday night?  Of course that brings up a third question:  Is there any reason for him to know that there was any fudge?

So far, consuming the end of the pan of fudge (Hey!  I had leftover turkey dinner, too!) has only gotten my headache better, so I call that positive reinforcement.  Hmm.  A friend was wondering if my headaches might be related to hypoglycemia.  I wonder if this would support or refute that hypothesis?

I’m also in a great mood (or is that a sugar high?) because today I really and truly finished putting up all the pictures on my walls.  Yes, I still have a few boxes to unpack.  But for me the true measure of when you are moved into a new home is when you have your pictures on the walls.

It’s tricky for this move.  So many of the pictures include my husband.  What do I want on my walls for this my new life? 

Mostly I’m including the happy young family pictures.  I’m including the pictures of the boys, young and joyful.  I’m including the pictures of us traveling all over Europe.

Most of the pictures we had on our walls always were ones that I took.  Steve never took much interest in what we put on our walls — Usually I’d drag him into helping me decide what to put up, but he’d let me put up whatever I wanted.  So I haven’t changed too much since he left.

And most of the pictures are my own photographs.  Photographs of castles.  Photographs of beautiful places.  Photographs of places that make my spirit soar.  And of course photographs of people I love in beautiful castles that make my spirit soar.

When I moved into this place, I said that it felt a lot more home-y than the apartment where I was before.  That’s even more true now that I have my own pictures, symbolizing my dreams, on my walls.  I do need to get some more current pictures up there next — but I think I will do that by getting myself a digital photo frame for Christmas and filling it with digital photos.  But that’s a whole new project!

As for the boxes, I had four piled in my closet, and I decided that I would empty the contents onto my bed on each of my four remaining days off in November.  So I will be dealing with the contents of box one before I go to bed tonight.  I am already excited because I discovered where my Blocking pins were hiding, and now I can block and sew up that sweater I finished knitting this summer!

Okay, that was all a long digression.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving Day.  I didn’t exactly get a lot of writing done, though I did spend fifteen minutes on my novel.  I still want to do a few more things this weekend before I officially declare myself moved in, but I am feeling much much more at home.

And my headache is worlds better, perhaps even gone!  And I am so very very thankful!

Here are my NaNoWriMo stats:

Words on my novel in November: 14,766.

Words on my blogs in November: 11,916

Total words written in November on my novel plus blogs:  26,682.

So I’m happy that I at least got past the halfway point, even with a record-breaking mind-blowing headache.  Life is good!

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I really and truly have three days off!  That is going to be lovely and luxurious and, I hope, thankful.

It won’t be as productive as I had fondly hoped because, the truth is, I’m on the fourteenth day of a headache, and I’m really drooping.  Had to figure out a way to lounge as I type.  I’ve gotten headaches all my life but I never conceived of a 14-day one.

On the good side, it’s not all that bad today, painwise.  After the corticosteroid ran its six-day course, the neurologist gave me Indomethacin.  Yesterday I took a Maxalt, and today it’s almost, almost gone.  I did some stuff this morning and then took a nap.  The nap actually made the headache stronger, but I feel too weak to keep going, so I’ll probably take another nap before long.

But the cool part is, I can work at my own pace, hang out, get some pictures put up, do some writing, write some reviews, take some naps, and there’s just no pressure, and it’s all okay.

Remember my goals for the month were first to finish moving in, and I’ve already made progress toward that today.  I’m pretty much giving up on the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words, but I DID work on my own goal of 15 minutes a day of writing, and I DID work on my own goal of doing some writing on my novel today.  And last night I got a couple more reviews written, and I plan to get some more today.

So I’m thankful.  For my home.  For my job.  For my time off.  For my son who will share my meal with me.  For my husband who provided me with great health care and who will give my son a great weekend.  For good food and the ability to prepare it.  For a cozy weekend and the wonderful opportunity to spend it working on the things I really want to do.

Happy Thanksgiving!

NaNoWriMo & Newberys, Headaches & Hassles

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I’m thinking about life.

November isn’t turning out like I expected when I decided to try NaNoWriMo after all.  It’s Day 10, and so far, I’ve written 4,214 words on my novel.  I had hoped for 2,000 words a day.  I thought that adding to my personal goal with anything I write on my blogs would make up the difference, but so far I have only written 1,114 words on my blogs, for a grand total of 5,328 words.

But you never know.  Today my headache is finally gone.  Calloo!  Callay!  And all the odd days off in November are starting up.  I have Veteran’s Day off, then Friday, then Sunday and Monday (for working the previous Sunday).  On Thanksgiving weekend, I’m working Saturday, but I get Wednesday off to make up for it, and I’m taking the last day of November off to attempt a last blitz on NaNoWriMo.  My son will be with his Dad for Thanksgiving, so I will have no excuses not to do some writing.

My headaches have been something of a puzzle.  After being completely under control for years now, why are they suddenly acting up?  They haven’t been very severe, but so persistent.  I have an appointment  with a neurologist in a couple of weeks to begin finding some answers.  It will be interesting to see if they stay away until then.  I’m not sure if “headaches” are really the problem, or if it’s a symptom of another problem.

Then there are the hassles from my husband over visitation logistics.  We were best friends for at least 15 years.  We both love our son.  Why can’t we just talk with each other about what times are good for each of us?  I don’t know, and it can absorb far more of my attention than I want it to.  I wish I had my husband and family and best friend back — yet I am surely enjoying this life of doing what I am interested in without worrying about whether it’s taking too much time from anyone else.

Today I learned that I was not accepted for ALSC’s Bill Morris Seminar in January.  But the nice part is that I have no more assignments of books to read.  I’ve finished the reading for the online Newbery class I was taking (It was wonderful!), and now I’m very curious if I could read lots of books that were published this year, if I might be able to guess next year’s winner.

What am I trying to say with all this rambling?  Well, that life is full and interesting.  Two of my best days this past month were when I had headaches — but I went hiking anyway, and walked in the glorious, gorgeous, incredibly beautiful Autumn woods and took some wonderful pictures.  Somehow surrounded by majestic beauty, everything falls into perspective.

One of the cool things about NaNoWriMo is that it looks like a whole lot of people who do it don’t meet the goal of 50,000 words.  So that is NOT failure, by any means!  But the fact is, 4,214 words toward my novel is 4,214 words that weren’t written before, and that is a wonderful thing.

I learned so much in the Newbery class, and read so many incredibly good books.  I’m excited about posting reviews of them and getting my website caught up — and then beginning to put in place some of the suggestions from the Kidlitosphere conference (which I attended the day before the latest headache started) and building community and making a better blog, and making connections.

I was excited when Nina Lindsay of School Library Journal’s Heavy Medal blog visited our Newbery class and recognized me as a frequent commenter on her blog.  Community and connections!  That’s the sort of thing they encouraged at the Kidlitosphere conference — and I want to get around to following more of my fellow conference attenders’ blogs.

When I did look at some of them, I found that some are doing NaNoWriMo!  So I added them as Buddies on that site.  (And I am down as SondySue on that site, so feel free to add me, if you’re reading my blog!)  It’s all about Connection…

So, this is my plan for my big day off tomorrow:  Post several reviews of Newbery winners, spend at least an hour on my novel, rake some leaves if it’s not raining, and put up some pictures. 

Can I do all that in one day?  Well, if not, that’s okay, too.  Life is full and interesting, and headaches & hassles really can’t stop that.

I’m excited that I’ve found something I’m passionate about:  Books and what makes them great.  And writing books.  And sharing great books with children.  And talking about great books.

 And even more exciting is that I’m making more and more connections with other people who share my passions and find what I have to say interesting.  (And lucky me, it’s even related to my job!)

And meanwhile, I’ve joined a new small group at church and am making good friends, and I live in a place where fabulous hiking is close at hand, and I have a homey “new” place and I’m getting settled in.

Life is good!


Monday, April 27th, 2009

I haven’t written on this blog for awhile.  I needed to find a cheaper place to live.  I did find one, and I think it’s much nicer than the old place — a townhome instead of an apartment in a big complex, for starters.

But all the busywork of moving has gotten me behind with my blogs.  I hope to get going again soon.

In so many ways, this move feels symbolic.

I moved into the old apartment as a temporary place to lick my wounds after my husband abandoned me.  I was pretty demoralized when I moved in, and much of my furniture was even broken by the movers.  I had the accumulated stuff of a five-bedroom house to try to pare down to fit into a three-bedroom apartment.

But now I am choosing northern Virginia as my home.  My son goes to the best high school in the nation.  (Even US News and World Report says it’s the best!)  I have a fantastic and fulfilling dream job.  Some lifetime friends live nearby, and the people of Gateway Community Church are now like family to me.

Northern Virginia is beautiful, and I now live close to several beautiful parks.  This townhome is not too big and not too little for the two of us.

I still believe that God has told me that He is going to do a transforming work in my husband’s life.  But one thing is certain:  Any work God does in my husband is going to have nothing whatsoever to do with me!  For now, and for the forseeable future, God is working in our lives separately.

So this place represents my new life as a Mom, a librarian, a writer, and a reviewer.  Someone with hobbies of reading, blogging, knitting, singing, hiking, and photography.

I’m excited, and am going to try to fill it with reminders of my new motto:  Life is FULL of reasons for Joy!