Monday, July 28, 2008

What's Your Legacy?

"...The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the OTHER people." --Randy Pausch The Last Lecture

I found out on Friday afternoon, while staying at my daughter's house, that Randy Pausch had died. This is a man that changed my life by changing my way of thinking. I urge all of you to take the time to read The Last Lecture. Even if you're not a reader, even if you think you're too busy, take the time. You can also watch the actual lecture on the web. Google Randy Pausch. A special will air Tuesday night at 10 on ABC. It will be well worth your time to watch.

This man left a legacy that reached out to millions of all ages. He didn't leave his mark by making tons of money or climbing some corporate ladder. No, he touched people through his effort to sew a net for his children to fall in after he left the world. What kind of legacy will we leave? What's important in our lives? What will people remember about us when we're gone? All of these questions are very important to me.

Just some food for thought.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Slow Down

I'm not sure how many times this message must present itself to me. One thing is for sure, the words slow down will continue to work their way to the surface until I heed the meaning. I've battled an ever-changing rash for the past two weeks. It began while I was on my trip and raged for a week afterwards. At first I decided to ignore its existence. Ha. It showed me a thing of two. Last week was much better, but it is far from being gone. I know exactly what has caused the nasty creature to show itself. My lack of concern for myself. On the days I slow down and relax, few and far between, the rash seems to heal and disappear. But just let me commit myself to something I shouldn't, that I really don't want to do, but say yes to anyway, and boom it is back in full bloom. If a stressful situation should show itself, there it is among the chaos, striking me with all its force. 

For some reason, I feel this need to prove that I am a writer. Never mind that I've published well over fifty pieces since the first of the year. It's not enough. Always I say yes to projects that take me away from my focus, novel, novel, novel. It's as if I'm sabotaging myself. So, once again I know I must clear my desk and life of intrusions and trust that my work will speak for itself. I have three book reviews due in the next months. After this, if I don't take on anything else, I will be free to focus on nothing but polishing the novel and then presenting it to those who can help me shop it. I so hate that word, shop. 

I will focus on taking on only what lends me peace not obligation. We shall see. Next week Little Daughter and I will go stay with Oldest Daughter for a week. This will be down time for me. Even though I will take my laptop--I take my laptop everywhere--I will not write except in my notebook and journal. This will be a good time to fill up the well and enjoy my daughters and grandchildren. So, I will take next week off from blogging. I will struggle to slow down. 

I think slowing down is a lesson on many readers' plates. I wish you luck. I let you know how my attempt goes. 


Monday, July 7, 2008

Fireworks, Eighty-three, and Pool Fun

Hubby, Little Daughter, and I began our Fourth with a cookout. My mother in-law and two brother in-laws came to our house. Mother in-law is eighty-three and beginning to show the wear and tear that age takes on one's life. As we ate our hamburgers and hot dogs out on our deck, I couldn't help but wonder what this strong lady has seen in her lifetime. Sure I've heard the funny and even some sad stories told over and over. But what about the ones never told? One can just look into the face of Miss Ruth and see a map of the most intricate kind. What would her family know if they heard all the tales? 

I guess it's the writer in me that seeks out the untold stories. Just the thought allows my imagination to run wild. But the fact is Miss Ruth has seen many Fourth of July holidays. What about The Fourths when her husband was fighting in Germany? She's seen a world that has changed radically and continues to change. And now she observes it all from her wheelchair and more often these days with foggy thoughts anchored in the past. But still she has much to give to anyone who will take the time to work around the many obstacles. 

As the day came to a close, we loaded Miss Ruth and her boys up to go to a fireworks display. The picture above shows her waiting like all of us for the great event. Right at dark the first firework was shot into the sky. Daughter and I sat on a blanket in front of Miss Ruth. I heard girlish giggles from behind me and turned to find Miss Ruth beside herself in pleasure. How simple was that pleasure? So simple that many would not take the time to embrace it. Red, Gold, Silver exploding in the night and Miss Ruth giggled on. The giggles were contagious and soon both Daughter and me were laughing too. 

The night lit up and I thought of my father, gone now for twenty years. He had a soldier's pride in The Fourth. He served in three wars beginning with World War II. He knew the meaning of freedom up close and firsthand. 

As the grand finale came to a close and all the people scrabbled to get to their cars and pull away first, Miss Ruth, sitting in her wheelchair, looked at Daughter and said, "You want a ride." My heart cracked open when Daughter said, "No Maw Maw. I'll push you." We made slow progress but progress all the same. I began to see the true meaning of patience as we snaked through the traffic. How often do we label an event to turn out a certain way and grow deeply disappointed when it doesn't pan out to be what we see as a success? When we made it back to the car, all the traffic had cleared out. We were free to go home at any pace we desired. 

Yesterday I wore the shoes of Miss Ruth. I went to spend the afternoon with Oldest Daughter, Her Hubby, and Grandchildren. Granddaughter is pictured above in their pool. I will save you from the sight of me in the pool. Grandson put on his own display of jumping and splashing to my complete pleasure. At one point Granddaughter said, "Granny go underwater." Of course I didn't want to do this. I had my makeup on and it would run all down my face and into my eyes. I heard the request again. Why was it so important for me to go underwater? I don't know but somehow I saw it was much like Little Daughter pushing Miss Ruth. It was an offer, a closeness. Just when Granddaughter was quite sure I would never go under, I plunged into the water. 

I heard voice on top, muffled. "She did it!" The magic of a grandchild's approval. 

We came together around the table, eating fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and of course hamburgers. I came home with a bagful of fresh green beans and tomatoes. The taste of summer. The taste of love and hard work. We can learn so much from the old and the young. And we know that old is after all only someone's opinion. 


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Meeting With The Muse

Let me start by saying no trip ever turns out the way we imagine. That's because we put so much pressure on this get away time to be perfect. Always there are challenges. But if we open ourselves to the changes, we might find some inspiration at the very least. My challenge came in the form of no power, as in light bulbs and air conditioning, in our cabin when we returned the first night at 9. Our day was wonderful. We went to Clingsman Dome, where I watched a thunderstorm move in. It was awesome. Hubby caught the different phases of the storm's movement in photos. His work is so wonderful. We pretty much spent the day on top of the mountains. 

While I was there, the muse whispered many times, teasing me with ideas just out of reach. When we returned to the cabin and found no power, I was angry and ready to scream at someone. Then, the place where we were staying upgraded our cabin. Not so bad. It had a good size table that I was able to drag onto the large porch. I worked next to the river as the muse revealed to me new work. I accomplish quite a bit. Each morning there after I woke, wrote in the early morning light, meditated--I haven't taken the time to do this in months--and listened to music. The days were filled with enlightenment. I now know that my next novel will take place in the Smokemont area. This area was once a booming logging town called Bradley Town. Yes, this is where I saw the ghost. I know that a preacher will be involved. 

I also found the house that Emily, one of the protagonists in my current project, lived in, complete with the shed that she converts into a studio for her art. I took several pictures so I can look at the details as I go back to the polishing. Now I can bring this part of the setting alive. I've included a photo above. This turned out to be quite a creative trip in spite of the challenges and there were plenty.