Life in the Moment: Still Breathing #MondayBlogs

My Facebook page recently reminded me that no one has heard from me in a while. Funny how those prompts make me feel just guilty enough to start thinking about writing a blog post, but not guilty enough to write one right away. I’ve been cruising through Life lately, musing on how busy I feel even though I’m not as busy as I used to be.

I’ve been writing … which some of you might be pleased to hear. Still, it’s hit-and-miss. I’ve never been terribly organized and, at 60, I probably won’t start now.

Several months ago I was diagnosed with cervical osteoarthritis. Also known as chronic pain in the neck. Well, the pain is not constant and is mostly due to the stiffness that seizes my neck when it’s been immobile for a while … like when I’m typing … on my computer … for my blog.  My arthritis can even be a pain in the neck when I knit–adding insult to injury. My husband wants me to have an MRI to make sure it really is arthritis, that the physical therapy I went through really is what I need to be doing.

My husband is a case study of how x-rays can deliver an incorrect or incomplete diagnosis. The short story is after several months of physical therapy for his back (during which he got little to no relief for his pain), he finally got an MRI and found that he has, among other things, severe spinal stenosis. The kicker: the physical therapy he had been prescribed was contraindicated for his type of back problem. Before I continue, let me reassure you all that he’s fine. He’s retired which allows him to spend as much time as he needs to exercise and take care of his back. He’s actually doing quite well compared to a year ago.

So, given his experience, he’s somewhat adamant that I consult my doctor about getting an MRI. Have I mentioned that I’m claustrophobic?

Besides doing a bit of writing here and there, complaining about my neck, and knitting … and let’s not forget my day job–although I try to, I really try to–I’m living in the moment. About 75 moments were spent walking around Lake Overstreet this Saturday.

It’s a nice walk, about 3.5 miles from the parking lot and back. It’s one of the few places in Tallahassee–aside from our house–that gives me a respite from the workaday world.

Start of the trail

Sometimes we’re lucky and we see some wildlife.

Gray rat snake. Harmless and very pretty.

Unfortunately, as I was just starting to take a picture of Mr. Snakey, a bicyclist came barreling down the path. Mr. Snakey was startled and slithered away, his head hidden in the bush before I could snap. Still, he was a treat to see, and I’m glad we were there otherwise the bicyclist probably would have ridden over him.

The trail has a few places where walkers, runners and bicyclists can stop and admire the lake. I’m always looking for alligators, of course.

Lake Overstreet

I know they’re out there. The view in the photo above is from a rest area built away from the water. Too far away for me to see whether there’s any lurking about.

Another nice spot with a picnic table even. And no barrier to the water. So I strolled up to the water line, looking for alligator trails among the tall grasses. Nothing.

Nothing but the moment and the being there. Turn up the volume.

Hope you’re all doing well and living in as many moments as makes you happy.

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New Release! THE BONE CURSE, A Genre-Bending, Supernatural Medical Thriller

Here’s a medical thriller with a heavy dose of the supernatural! Carrie Rubin, author of Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge, has a new novel available! It’s been getting great reviews which is no surprise to us who love Carrie’s writing 🙂 Now be like me and rush out to get a copy!

Carrie Rubin

Do you believe in the paranormal?

I wish I did. Life would be more fun. But in reality, a ghost could hit me upside the head with a copy of War and Peace and I’d still find a way to explain it. Thanks to my left-brain skepticism and years of science education, a believer in the unseen I am not.

BUT…

That doesn’t mean I don’t find it fascinating, and it doesn’t mean I don’t want to write about it.

The Bone Curse, available today, takes a rational-minded man of science and tosses him into an otherworldly situation, one with curses, dark priests, and Haitian Vodou.

The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin After getting cut by an old bone in the Paris catacombs, a skeptical med student must use the occult to stop a deadly curse and a vengeful priest.

The Hero:

Ben, the main character, is not a perfect guy. He’s a med student…

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Living in the Moment … As Much As I Can #MondayBlogs #hiking #knitting

I’ve been leading a non-writing life lately … well, if you don’t count writing letters (of the snail mail variety). Although I’ve been writing in my head a lot. Somehow I don’t manage to put those thoughts down on paper. No, what usually gets down on paper is my endless to-do lists for both work and home. Over the last few weeks, aside from writing lists and letters, I’ve done a few other things, things that compelled me to be in the “here and now.”

Knitting

I’ve been knitting up a storm, folks. Not for me, mind you. No, I’ve got plenty of shawls, scarves and hats for this relatively warm climate. I’ve been on a mission knitting for others. My most favorite knitting is serendipitous: I see a pattern and yarn combination and a friend or family member pops into my head. So I knit.

A shawl for a friend.

This shawl requires two different colors of yarn, but in the pattern, the colors are both solid. I had originally intended to knit a different shawl but the pattern and I weren’t getting along so I reverted to this one. It is one of my favorite shawl patterns, but the yarns deviated from what the pattern requires. So I was a bit of a nervous Nellie while knitting, worried that it wouldn’t look very nice at the end.

Ha!

Detail of shawl.

What’s not to love about this detail?! It was a real pleasure to knit and even more fun when I gave it to my friend. Nope, she had no idea.

Next up was a scarf for a family member. He is a relatively new family member, older than me and related by blood, but we’ve only just “discovered” each other recently. Yup, I took a DNA test and got more than I was hoping more. His birthday was recently. Usually I don’t knit for birthdays because, well, I don’t want to set expectations (i.e., no, D, you are not going to get a knitted scarf every birthday). But, again, serendipity. I wanted to do SOMETHING. I had the yarn (alpaca blend) and a favorite scarf pattern. So I went to it.

The long view.

Believe or not (and I know some of you non-knitters won’t believe it), this is a very easy pattern. It knits up quickly and is a real pleasure. I love seeing the pattern unfold.

Cables.

More cables!

Cables are fun to knit! I learned to knit cables decades ago. I used to be so intimidated by them but they are ridiculously easy to knit. The cool thing is knitting cables makes you feel like you’re actually building something 🙂

Hiking

Another living in the moment experience was going on a hike with my husband to Shepherd Spring. It’s a flat hike (no hills to stretch our calves), but lovely. It was quite pleasant until we got to the Cathedral of Palms when we were dive-bombed by mosquitoes. Usually this is a place where we would want to linger, but, since I have a blood type that mosquitoes can’t resist, I picked up my pace and nearly left my husband behind.

It was a lovely afternoon. A much-needed immersion in nature. There are a lot of things I don’t like about living in Florida. I can count on one hand the things I do like. Shepard Spring is one of them. Please enjoy the slideshow.

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Ruminations on the United States as an exceptional country #neveragain

Exceptional in its penchant for violence, for a first-world country, the United States is a country I no longer recognize. It’s not the country I grew up in, where people rose up demanding equal education, equal rights for women and minorities, celebrating diversity and the wonderful complexity that is life. There’s some irony here because a lot of other people also pine for those “good old days” and their remembrance is much different from mine. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, feeling frustrated even as a young teenager with the restrictions placed on me simply because I was female. But I also felt empowered and hopeful because of all the adult women fighting for my future, by marching and by voting. I grew up in “ethnic” diversity where people made distinctions based on whether your family’s origins were from Poland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, or Puerto Rico. Only three black kids went to my high school and they were related to each other. Yet, we wanted to be friends, to be inclusive because at heart we were all kids. Our parents cared about the color of skin, but we didn’t. So I grew up frustrated and yet hopeful.

The country I live in now is unrecognizable to me. We don’t just make distinctions based on nationality; we deport people, even if the only crime they are guilty of is staying here too long. We want to roll back the clock on women’s rights and make them all handmaidens. Our path here has been insidious, only obvious when we look back and see the long road we’ve traveled.

We’ve come to embrace violence as just the way we exert our freedoms. The right to own an AR-15, a weapon designed for the sole purpose of killing a lot of people in a short period of time, is far more important than the lives of the people killed with an AR-15. The NRA has infiltrated our political system the way a cancer metastasizes. It kills, like cancer kills. Indiscriminately. No one is safe. In my eyes, the NRA is a terrorist organization, no better than ISIS.

Today I am going to my state capitol to stand with hundreds, perhaps thousands of people to demand that the Florida legislature enact serious gun control, to demand that these legislators stop being whores to the NRA and start serving the people they claim to represent. We must vote them out, vote out the NRA in November 2018. I can only hope that there are no more mass shootings before then.

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Good reads for those who love to read #amreading

Pedro is right: follow The Disappointed Housewife and “all of your wildest dreams will come true.” via Catch some new fiction @ TDH

Posted in Reading, The Disappointed Housewife | 1 Comment

Tiddlywinks ~ an essay by Krista McCarthy

I’m reblogging this essay from The Disappointed Housewife not only because I want to promote The Disappointed Housewife, but also because this essay by Krista McCarthy is spot-on when it comes to social media. I am not quitting social media, but McCarthy’s essay captures the tension I have with social media … especially Facebook. Sorry, Zuckerberg, but connecting with people through Facebook has not always been a happy, positive, three-dimensional experience. Even with family, sometimes it’s painfully one-dimensional. I’m not quitting Facebook. I’m in too deep. But I’m going to Google Krista McCarthy.

The Disappointed Housewife

So I’m off social media. I did it. I went in too deep, and now I’m just out. Because it flattened me.

It started with Facebook. It’s like only Zuckerberg really understood what was going to be happening, and had to happen, and that is that people would start connecting. But he might not have thought through the dynamics of that kind of connecting, which allows the subject – the “person” depicted on the Facebook page – to show herself to the world in any way she likes.

I didn’t need to connect to “friends and family” because I was already close enough to them and we all talked. On the phone. Instead I wanted to connect with other people. People I didn’t know yet and who didn’t know me. I was going to be (I thought) a monologist, though I think monology was already getting a little bit…

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Rapunzel, A Different Kind of Fairy Tale ~ fiction by Marie A Bailey

Not to toot my own horn, but here I am tooting! I am honored to be included in this new online literary journal, The Disappointed Housewife. Many thanks to Kevin Brennan for kick-starting my own literary career by publishing my different kind of fairy tale. I hope you enjoy it!

The Disappointed Housewife

Once upon a time, a child was born with long, silky blond hair. In fact, she came out of the womb, not head first, but hair first. The doctors and nurses and her parents were both fascinated and repulsed by the sight of the bloody blond hair that lay pooled on the hospital bed. A nurse came toward the infant with scissors but the mother stopped her. “No,” she said. “Let the hair stay. I will wash it myself.” She looked up at her husband whose face was a pale shade of gray. “We will call her Rapunzel,” she said and her husband dutifully nodded.

They had all expected Rapunzel’s hair to fall out and then regrow slowly, normally. But the hair stayed and it continued to grow until, by the time Rapunzel was walking, her hair followed behind her like a princess’s wedding train. And by then the whole…

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Ruminations #MondayBlogs #acceptance #forgiveness

Some of you know that I practice yoga at a studio. A few weeks ago, a student I didn’t know started attending the two classes I take each week. I found her presence to be a little unsettling. She was … to put it delicately … expressive with almost every pose she made. Her rather energetic sighs and enthusiastic exclamations distracted me from my own effort to relax into a pose. I wondered why she was so loud and talkative. I thought maybe she was new to yoga and didn’t yet understand that most students prefer silence. Well, at least I prefer silence. All I want to hear is the instructor as she guides me through a vinyasa.

Then one morning I was checking Facebook and a message from the yoga studio owner pops up. As I read it, my face flushed with embarrassment … and shame.

Turns out the expressive student who I will call Grace (not her real name) is recovering from a long illness, an illness that could have killed her and that has left her with brain damage. The message from the studio owner was prompted by complaints from other students. She felt obligated to help all of us understand Grace’s situation, in part because Grace so loved practicing yoga and in part because she and Grace were very close friends.

Grace was once a yoga instructor herself, at the very studio I attend, and she is well-loved by many there. I thought long and hard about how to respond to this news. Finally, I wrote back to the studio owner:

“Thank you for your post on Grace. I’m too embarrassed to admit publicly that I was initially unsettled by her comments and expressiveness during the few classes we’ve shared so far. I didn’t know who she was and thought she was just a very vocal person at first. But then I observed how the instructors responded to her … no, not really responded, but reached out to her. Every instructor, from the one teaching the class to the ones practicing, responded to Grace with a tender, loving kindness that made me realize there was something very special about her. I guess it’s that joy that people feel when they get back someone they thought they had lost. And I observed Grace … her warmth, her genuine friendliness to everyone around her, her joy when her body fell into place with the pose. When she smiled, her whole face would light up and you’d think, “this person loves life.” But I could also see the confusion sometimes, the withdrawal and quiet. It breaks my heart to know that the confusion is from her illness. What I learned from your post and my observations of the wonderful instructors at the studio and especially Grace, is that the studio is a safe place for everyone. I’ve always thought of it as such; the one place I can go and be my clumsy, flaky self without anyone criticizing me. But it’s not all about me and it’s not just for me. If the studio is a safe place for me, it has to be for everybody. Before I read your post, I struggled with that tension of wanting my safe, quiet place and sharing it with Grace and her enthusiasm. After reading your post, I realized what a hypocrite I am. One of the many things I LOVE about the studio is the sense of humor everyone shares, the willingness to laugh at ourselves, to let go of the pressures of the day and just Be. I read your post a few hours before my Yin/Yang class. Grace was there and I rejoiced in every word and sound she uttered. As so many have said, Grace expresses what we all feel: she gives voice to our joy when a pose feels right, our bafflement when we forget which is right and which is left, and that sweet peace as we yield to savasana. I truly look forward to practicing with her. And thank you for making the studio what it is: a place of healing and joy and laughter.”

I wanted to share this because I still haven’t completely forgiven myself. Yes, the next time Grace turned up in one of my classes, I made a point of saying hello to her. Nothing more. Not yet. She was quiet that night and I could only hope it was because she was feeling peace within herself, not confusion.

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The Disappointed Housewife is LIVE!

Check it out!

https://kevinbrennanbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/the-disappointed-housewife-is-live/

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Coming soon!

New online literary mag is open for submissions … and getting ready to launch on January 15th! Read on for more details …

WHAT THE HELL

The Disappointed Housewife is approaching!

I’ve received a number of fun pieces the last few weeks, and though I’m still keeping the pre-launch submission window open, the big day will be January 15. Mark your calendars.

I hope all my readers here at What The Hell will quickly follow the new lit mag and start spreading the word. But I’m also eager to see new submissions coming in so I can build up a nice catalog of material for readers. I’ll be posting open submission calls at a variety of places, hoping to find a lot of writers willing to try new things. Of course, I’ll always give readers of this blog a fair shot at publication because loyalty deserves reward. If you have something you think would fit in at TDH, send it on over. Or read the pieces that I’ve already assembled to get a feel for…

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