I’m In A Season of Slow

If you slow things down, you notice things you hadn’t seen before.  Robert Wilson

Recently I asked for some feedback on my Facebook page concerning topics for Write 31 Days. I’ve participated in the online writing challenge every October since 2012.  If you click on Write 31 Days on the navigation bar at the top you will be able to see those series.

I was given great feedback from those of you that participated in my informal survey.  In fact I discovered that our hearts were pretty much aligned as your top two topics were also my top two.  I chose the one about all the houses that built me.

I started gathering pictures and interviewed my dad about the early homes.  I started a folder in my documents to house my collection.  Then, I finally listened to the still small voice that was telling me NOT to do the 31 days this year.  Every time I sat down to my computer to write I wasn’t able to pull my thoughts together.  I kept feeling the nudge and finally had to accept that this is not my year to participate.

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I’m in a season of slow right now.  There is no use fighting the reality.  Some things are not negotiable.  My mom and dad need my support right now.  I have to take care of my health.  Many days that is all I accomplish.  My husband is my biggest support and he takes up a lot of the slack.  We all need margin in our lives and tackling this challenge right now would not leave enough margin.

So, what does that mean?  I am still committed to the series and will be preparing to launch it on the blog, hopefully sometime after the New Year.  I think it will make a cozy winter series that you can read while curled up by the fire with a warm cup of something to savor. 

If you want to make sure you don’t miss content when I start the series, you can subscribe up at the top right where it says follow blog via email – just put your email address in the box.  No one will have access to your email but me and I do not share email addresses with anyone. Ever.  You will only receive an email when a new post is written.  Some of you are already subscribers and I thank you very much.

Slowing in grace,

Teresa

 

This Writing Life

 

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Currently, my writing garden is mostly clumps of dirt. Wet, heavy, soggy, bogged down clumps of dirt.  (Trying to insert a garden metaphor to this post – seeds and all that)

People talk about their muse, and only being able to write when she shows up.  Is the muse always a she? Other’s talk about writing whether she shows up or not.  They say writing is a discipline so make it a daily habit.  I see the argument on both sides, however, I tend to lean more toward the needing to be inspired category of writing. If I try to write when there is no inspiration it feels flat (much like what I’m writing now, but I will muddle through because you have a right to know if I’ve stopped writing or not).  I’d like to know the answer to that as well.

I hope I’ve not stopped writing, but the truth is that for a long while the words have been scant (like a garden without flowers. Sorry).  I mentioned it several months ago.

I love words and how they interact; I love aligning words to paint a picture (or arrange them into a lovely bouquet. again, sorry).  The writing of words is in my blood.  I can’t imagine a life without writing.

The truth is I’m struggling with words and life and fatigue.  I feel as if I’ve lost my passion for all the things that make my heart go pitty-pat.  I’ve been so consumed with caregiving and managing my own self-care that frankly, I’ve become depleted.  I’m not complaining, just trying to put the absence of words in perspective.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and wondering lately if maybe this season of life does not include writing.  Is it possible that I’m to put the pen and paper on the shelf for a time so I can concentrate on other priorities?  I don’t have any clear answers.

What I do know is that my husband needs my support; my parent’s health needs require our help and my own health needs dictate that I must have proper rest in order to not deplete my energy or cause a flare. Most days that is all I can manage.  So, I don’t write.

I also know that social media hogs more of my free time than I’d like to admit.  Because it’s easy and doesn’t require much effort or brain power.  The time would be better spent reading which is a necessary thing for writers to be doing.

I miss the not writing.  I think a few of you might too, based on some things  others have said.  I don’t want to neglect the gift of writing and I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t want to be presumptuous and assume that people can’t live without my words, but I also don’t want to let down the handful of people who tell me my writing is meaningful to them.

So, I’ve plucked the petals one by one, to write, not to write, to write….  Do I shut down the blog, keep it open without writing, or make an effort to write at least once a week or….. on and on.  What about social media? Reading? You get the picture.  I’m really not clear at this point.

So, what does all this mean?

  1.  For now, the blog will stay open (you can go back to the beginning and read all the posts if you’d like).
  2. There will not be a regular posting schedule (nothing new about that). In all honesty, I wouldn’t expect much until Fall ish.
  3. I will write when I can and if you subscribe you will get an email when I do.
  4. I may participate in the 31 Days of writing this October.
  5. I have already done away with my blog Facebook page and will be spending less time on my personal Facebook page.
  6. I’m rarely on twitter and will consider dumping it entirely
  7. I really don’t understand google + and never go there so will dump that account if it’s not necessary for my gmail.
  8. I don’t have Instagram (wrong phone) but would love an account. Because pictures. I enjoy taking pictures and sometimes they speak when words can’t or won’t.
  9. I will attempt to read more for spiritual growth and for writing growth.
  10. I will be spending time praying about the direction of my writing. I appreciate your prayers too.
  11. This fall I will be attending a writers workshop which will help give some clarity.
  12. I will update you when I have more insight. Please be patient I don’t know how long it will take.
  13. Comments are useful and welcome as I would love to know your thoughts.

In conclusion – I am a writer.  Who is not writing much these days. Rather than stringing words together in a passionate fevered pitch and seeing them bloom on the page, it has been more like standing in a downpour turning clods of dirt. While I’m being drenched by the deluge, I will continue to plant seeds in hopes that they will not wash away and in due time will produce a harvest.  (How’s that for a garden metaphor).

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Digging in grace,

Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

I Brake for Fall

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Tuesday, Sept. 8: Tell us about your favorite season. Why is it your favorite and what does it say about you?

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.  L.M.Montgomery -Anne of Green Gables

I love fall, y’all!  

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I enjoy aspects of all the seasons and would not want to live anywhere that I couldn’t have seasonal changes.  But, fall is hands down my favorite time of year.  Spring is a near second, winter is a distant third and summer is dead last.  Summer is actually the one season I could easily skip, other than I do like the slower pace and when I was a teacher, having summers off was pretty cool.  And, definitely necessary. Enough said.

I think I came to realize that fall was my favorite time of year when I lived in Florida and it just wasn’t the same.  You miss what you don’t have.  It made me appreciate it all the more when we moved back North.  (But, then I missed the ocean, so there’s that.  But, really I’m more of a mountain girl.  I digress.)

Here is my list of reasons I love fall:

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To me fall says that I am a homebody, a lover of quiet evenings in front of the TV or with a good book.  It is a slowing down to enjoy time with family and friends. It speaks to the part of me that loves a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove.  It sparks my creativity and allows some of my best photo shots and writing. If I am being totally honest, it also brings on a bit of melancholy that I have to guard against, but it still gives me some of my best moments in life.

I see fall as both a little bit spicy and practical.  It is no-nonsense, but serendipitous all at the same time.  It is a warm hug as well as a brusque nod in passing. It is a steadfast heart that loves without condition, but won’t be trampled.  It is chaotic and fragile, but stands strong in the storm.  It is a little rough around the edges, as well as gloriously beautiful in spirit.  Like me.

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What about you – what is your favorite time of year?  

Falling in Grace,

Teresa

That Which We Will Not Give Up

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click the picture for more info about Blog-tember. click the heading below to see all of today’s entries.

Friday, Sept. 4: What are you passionate about?

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This one is not as easy as it sounds.  I tend to rule with my emotions, so on any given day I could be passionate about any given thing, depending on my mood.  Hence, the need to filter through all those emotions to land on my true passions.  As I have gotten older, things have shifted and I’ve been learning to curb the emotional tide that can overpower reason from time to time. I truly believe that our passions our woven together with God’s purpose for our lives, and as such, require careful curating.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Maybe the real passion comes from those things that emerge as the non-negotiables.  Sometimes, we waste our energies and passions on causes that aren’t ours to bear.  It’s rather like the overuse of the word love (guilty here, too!).  We use love to describe everything from the latest trendy socks, to food, to our job and the people we’d do anything for.  Sometimes in all that love, it’s hard to know what love really is.  It’s more than a word to describe a feeling.  It’s an action that springs up from our very depths and will not be squashed.

For example, I love Pizza, but I could survive without it.  I love my husband and I don’t even want to think about surviving without him.  Obviously, the word love here is used to mean more than one kind of love.  I think it’s the same with passion.  Some things on our passionate list may have more priority than others and listing them together may seem shallow.  But, as long as we understand the difference, then I think everything I”m passionate about from the mundane to the world changing can make peace with being on the same list.  From that list, I can then narrow my focus to those that are non-negotiable. Those that I will hold onto for dear life. Those that most define my God-given purpose.

Some of my current passions, in no particular order, are: Alzheimer’s, my husband, my family, chocolate, Italian food, Writing, decorating and organizing my home, napping, watching Blue Bloods, the current political and moral climate, enjoying a girls day out, taking drives, snapping pictures of everything, day dreaming and my faith in God and the gift of salvation.

I must add here, that I think the things we are passionate about don’t necessarily mean that we love all of them.  Sometimes, our passionate focus on something can stem from our desire to fight back against that which we we truly hate.  I also think that some passions are for a season and some are for life.

A prime example of this is the fact that my mother has Alzheimer’s.  I’m very passionate about Alzheimer’s during this season of life.  Not because I love the disease ( I truly hate all that it represents), but because I love my mother. I’m passionate about protecting her and helping her, not because I want to make decisions for her, but because she needs me to and I love her, so I want what is best for her.

Alzheimer’s was not on my passion radar until it knocked on my door. Whether or  not it continues to be a passion hinges on a lot of variables, one of which could mean that I too may one day stare this ugly disease in the face.  I passionately hope and trust not, but it is not mine to decide.

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Another current passion that made my list is Blue Bloods.  It’s just a TV show people.  No big deal.  Really, could I be any more shallow.  Is it a true, fight to the death, passion? No, of course not.  But, during this season of life it represents a lot of things to me: time spent with my husband, a chance to unwind from the real world, a glimpse into a family dynamic that speaks of love, service, trust and passion.  All the things I think are important for family to cling to in times of distress.

Especially in times of distress.  Those are the times we most clearly need to be passionate.  Much of life requires us to fight for our needs to be met, to fight for what we believe in, to fight for what feeds our soul. It is during these times that we need to know what we will not give up.  

I can give up Blue Bloods, I can even (hope I don’t have to) give up chocolate, or a lot of other passions, but there are a few that I will fight for such as my faith, my husband, my family my friends, and the need to be creative.

Writing is a gift from God and I know it is woven into the very fiber of my being.  Even in those times when the well seems to be dry, or I am frozen to publish anything  I still know that writing is a part of me.  I still know that my survival hinges on being able to express my thoughts in words; being able to paint you a picture with my words.  That is why I keep writing, even the mundane, so that I don’t lose touch with the passion of laying down words, because I don’t want to miss the day when the purpose in the passion shines through in the most brilliant of ways and my soul sighs in blissful contentment. 

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Finding purpose and passion in grace,

Teresa

Restore. Repeat.

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SEPTEMBER 2 – Describe your ideal day. Where would you go and what would you do?

It’s a day I know well; one that is entrenched deep in my soul; one that restores; one I’m ready for again.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  Psalm 42:1-2 NKJV

It is somewhere in the vicinity of morning, there may still be a nine on the clock.  Ok, it’s ten. ish.  I’ve just opened my eyes and realize that I feel so rested and that there are no achy joints.  Today is going to be a great day.

I throw on something comfortable that I probably wouldn’t wear in public and head out to the rocker on the cabin porch.  I breath deeply of the crisp October air relishing in the perfect blue sky.  The fire red leaves pop against the background of sky and the sun filters through the leaves assuring me that today is going to be wonderful.

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I wrap a soft throw around my shoulders and settle into the comfy rocker, hot chocolate in hand, to spend some quiet time.  I listen to the birds chatting with one another.  A leaf floats downward, resting gently on the forest floor, a contrast to the roar of the waterfall in the distance.

*The creek is never silent; always playing in the background reassuring me that all is as it should be. The cool water rushes over the stones staying the course day in and day out. I read a testimony once of a gentleman who immersed himself in the waters of Roaring Creek because he felt the need to have another baptism to mark his rejoicing in all that God had provided.

After a while, I realize that the roaring of the creek has taken a back seat to the roaring in my belly.  Time for a hearty breakfast that will take me to dinner.  My husband is the breakfast whisperer.  He always does the big breakfast – usually bacon or sausage with eggs and toast or sometimes biscuits. I take mine with milk or juice.  I love the smell of coffee, but haven’t acquired the taste quite yet.

Once the breakfast dishes are draining, it is back out to the rocker  with notebook and pen, senses heightened, ready to explore new thoughts.  I may  just soak in the beauty and jot a few thoughts, or I may write feverishly trying to get it all down before the next thought pushes through.  Either way, *October belongs to me, or maybe I belong to October.  October captures my heart every time.

After October has soaked into my bones, I will mosey back into the cabin for some daydreaming, perhaps a little shut eye, stretched out on the sofa without a care in the world.  Later in the day we will drive over to Boone or Blowing Rock and check out one or two of the shops or perhaps we’ll just drive around exploring a mountain lane.

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The drive  will be more about the beauty of the color than the destination.There will be random stops to take pictures of beautiful trees that are drenched in October’s best.  Eventually, we’ll find a yummy place for dinner.  Preferably Italian.  The last time there was a wonderful little Italian place in Banner Elk; hoping it’s still there.

After our tummy’s have said no more, we’ll head back to the cabin, settle in for a long, quiet evening of reading that may or may not involve chocolate at some point.

When the eyes are flickering shut more than awake, we’ll head to bed after opening the window a crack, and sleep blissfully to the cadence of Roaring Creek in the background.  It will be a sleep full of blessings and sweet dreams. Knowing that tomorrow we get to hit repeat.

Restoring in Grace,

Teresa

PS – I just found out about the Blog-tember writing challenge when I read my friend Barbara’s blog earlier today.  I clicked over to Bailey Jean’s blog and browsed through the daily topics, and thought I’d join in on some of the days.

What I like about the Blog-tember challenge is that she gives you specific things to write about each day. Yesterday’s prompt (Sept. 1) was to tell you about me.  Since my about me page is pretty thorough and since I”m a day late I will let you go there to read the story of Who Am I?.

*Links to little poems I wrote about October and Roaring Creek.  This post was inspired by our many visits to Fairhaven in Roan Mt. Tennessee.  A place we discovered several years ago and one that always helps restore and settle us from the cares of life.  

The road less taken

Checking In

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Just checking in with an update.  Change is still happening around here. Due to both our computers being in the shop for two weeks my tweaking was interrupted.

I want to carve out some time over the next couple of weeks to finish the new look of the blog (note:  nothing is written in stone so the tweaking may take awhile).

Also, I’m hoping to finally get back on a somewhat regular writing schedule. More on that as thoughts develop.  I know I don’t want to obsess over the “rules of blogging” whatever they may be.  I don’t want to worry about statistics and who may or may not be reading my blog.  I figure that God sends the people that need to read what I have to say.

Writing is not a competition.  It is a conversation between like minded individuals. There is room for my voice, your voice and all the writing voices to be heard.  My blog won’t be for all readers, but it will be exactly the spot that others will need to be.  So, I trust that those who need me and those I need will find their way here and become part of a community. If you are already a “regular”, thanks for sticking by me in the lean times.

I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and encouragement.  I know the latest trends say that blogging is dying.  I know a lot of people don’t engage in conversation.  I just want you to know that I value your conversation and try my best to respond to all comments.   I also value your right to remain silent, so I never want anyone to feel pressured to leave comments.

I pray you will find the  conversation here uplifting and insightful.  My hope is that all who enter here will feel at home and find a sense of place.

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

Writing in Grace,

Teresa

Rearranging Furniture

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I have come to the conclusion that rearranging furniture  is probably a metaphor for life. We have played musical furniture so many times over the past year and are probably not done yet.  I’m starting to realize that shifting furniture around and making the pieces fit can teach us much about life.  We have to look at our available resources and determine how they can work together to create the space that we need in order to be at our most productive.  This is true of living life to our fullest potential as well as having a home with well-balanced furniture and accessories. Sometimes we have to accept that it might be time for something to go in order to make room.

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This has been a year of accepting that God sometimes rearranges our plans.  My husband has been without an official, includes benefits, job for a while now.  Doors have been slamming all over the place.  I finally changed the way I was praying.  I started asking God to send my husband the work he had for him to do rather than asking God to send him the job we thought he needed. I also asked God to give us enough. It’s not the way we thought we’d be living at this point in our lives, but our needs are being met in the space we’ve been given. God is faithful and he does answer prayer.

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I have  been looking hard at what I’m supposed to be writing. For a long time I resisted writing about my mom’s Alzheimer’s and how it was rearranging all our lives. I didn’t want that to be my story. But, it is part of my story and it shapes  my voice. To leave it out would not be authentic, so I’ve been rearranging and making space to explore the journey in my writing.

One of the highlights of this past year was when I went to a Writers Barn event and soaked in what Emily Freeman and Christa Wells had to say about our writing voice. Emily said, “Learn to respect the story that’s within you”.  She’s right.  Going forward, that is a lesson I will continue to embrace.

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A year is made up of many moments that define our living.  If we can look at those moments and see how the story was written, then we can take the truth from those moments and let them shape the story that is to come.

Rearranging in grace,

Teresa

What lessons have you learned this year?  To read what others have been learning hop on over to Chatting at the Sky.