Most of you know I also teach music lessons. Here is one of my favorite TED Talks about the affect playing a musical instrument has on the brain. Get playing!
Goodness knows why cucumber can’t be my go-to when I must munch. Or an apple. They crunch, and I crave crunch, so why do I find myself up to my eyeballs in a popular brand of breakfast cereal that has those freeze-dried strawberry pieces?
It’s 2021 and I still have to go through the drive through for my matcha, and smile at people by squinting. I admit, I’ve been searching properties in Florida. Why Florida? Why not Florida?! Although I’m sure I would miss the 363 days of clouds, wind, and rain here in the Pacific Northwest, I have family in Florida I haven’t seen in years, and I’d love to walk outside in my pajamas and pick an orange. Okay, I’m exaggerating – it’s only 362 days of clouds, wind, and rain, but the property is cheaper in the area of the West Florida coastline we’ve been daydreaming over. I wonder how the Matcha is there.
So, as my husband and I drooled over property 3,421 miles away, I let my teenagers make dinner. “Use things from the freezer,” was my only instruction. Our freezer needs to be reduced. So, dinner consisted of fish sticks and quesadillas. Which is why I had a grilled cheese sandwich and an abnormally large bowl of breakfast cereal. I promise this is a non-standard meal in our house, where I generally make everything from scratch and snub those who crack open a can for their dinner. I once told a neighbor kid who suggested I make pancakes from a bag mix to, “Get out of my house!” I was kidding, of course. You do know I was kidding, Josiah? Right? In Colorado? Inside joke… Anyway, I couldn’t cook because I was busy drooling over property and moping about the continued lockdown and how it affects teaching, students, and clients. I don’t mind the lockdown for myself – I’m a bit of a recluse and I still don’t mind spending time locked in my office alone.
I originally titled this post, ‘Nothing’, because I really had nothing viable to contribute to the virtual world this evening. You can see, that fact didn’t stop me from posting. It usually does. I have colleagues that post regularly and it aids in building a fan base. I, on the other hand, sit and stare at a blank blog post page with nothing to say. I can blast the page with words if it’s a book – I rarely get writer’s block with that. I have about ten books going at the same time, and if one plot gets stale, I skip tracks to a different book and keep right on going. But blogging cracks open my nothing box and I’m a giant dial tone. Remember dial tones?
I have been writing, though not as much as I’d like. I’m almost done with the rough draft of book two of the Sword series. And book three is well under way as well so I don’t have a repeat of the book 1 unveiling that nearly got me lynched. I’m thrilled it was so enjoyed by all, but I regretted book two was not closer to completion when the first book hit the market.
So, to those who made it all the way to the end of my nothing post, Happy New Year! Thank you for ‘listening’. Would you like a fish stick?
It is time again for the Whatcom County Youth Fair at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden, Washington. On April 10 and 11, 2020, I’ll be teaching creative writing again! If your youth has outgrown some of the other Youth Fair activities, this might be a good choice for them. We’ll explore character creation, writer’s block, poetry, and the vital elements of a good story. Check it out!
See you this spring!
Outside, rain drenches the brown grass and fallen leaves to the sounds of high winds through the naked trees. Fog, like low lying clouds, clings to the earth in defiance. Nature seems to groan as another gust bends the trees with a roar that builds and then diminishes like birth pangs. And just around the corner of the clock waits the new year, swaddled in mystery, unshaken by the storm.
I keep telling myself that maybe it’s just my age that makes the dim outdoors seem to penetrate my memory of the year. After all, as we age, so do our friends and family, and with age comes death. Death seems to be all around us, doesn’t it? Decaying leaves, haunting news about murders and political turmoil, week old remnants of Christmas dinner that should probably be pitched in the trash, and a calendar at its last page. And the loss of loved ones who should be sharing this time of year with those they’ve left behind.
The whining in the trees, though loud to me, fails to gain the attention of those that have crossed over to their reward. I consider some of them; some with years left ahead of them. As I consider this, I realize my age is not driving my contemplation, but thoughts of those who took their own lives this year stalk me. They are the unnecessary losses that lack explanation and infect our subconscious with unasked and unanswered questions.
What has happened to the world?
Can I just say, if you’re depressed, sad, trapped – please, call out to someone. Don’t underestimate your value to those around you. Tell us what we can do to help avoid being robbed of your life. Maybe you feel small – we all do at some point; some more than others. Maybe you have hit a dead end and can’t see past it, but the sun will rise in the morning. Maybe one of your circle of friends can sit with you until it rises. Maybe you’re believing a lie that those you love would be better off without you. It’s a powerful lie, but a lie nonetheless. Or, maybe you think they would hate you if they knew what truth you held. But you have no idea. Would you throw your life away, sacrificing that which cannot be pulled back at the feet of the unknown? The reality is, the devastation is like an emotional atom bomb. You would smackdown on anyone who would hurt your friends and family, so don’t you do it. I know you’re not thinking clearly, so reach out to those who are. You may hate yourself, and maybe someone else does, too – perhaps someone important to you – but others don’t hate you. No one can be loved by all, but no one is hated by all either. So, for the love of the others, the ones who would be devastated by your loss, please reach out. Please.
I’m reflective, contemplative, and at times sad for what has been lost this year. But I do have joy deep inside. The year hasn’t been a total loss, as I have amazing friends, family, and God. Joy and happiness are not the same things. Happiness is reliant upon circumstance or emotion, but joy comes from somewhere deeper and is a stabilizer for the soul. That is a whole different post…
If you’ve read this post to the end, I thank you. And I leave you with this line from the ever-popular movie, It’s a Wonderful Life: No man is a failure who has friends. Hug your friends this New Year, and often thereafter. Make sure you tell people you love them, care about them, that you’re there for them. Remember that we need each other.
May God give you grace and mercy in your time of need.
What are you up to, Shai? Where have you been?
I’m not bored, that’s for certain.
This fall, my husband and I decided to tackle a new venture selling Medicare Advantage plans. The schooling devoured my time like a hungry Voskan tundra wolf, but we’re up and rolling now, thankfully. In addition, I’ve been teaching private music lessons, cleaning, and whatever viable, legal freelance employment I can put my hand to in order to keep the lights on.
Presently, I’m on the edge of winter ‘break’ (where I will get caught up on household chores that have been neglected), to be followed by my first official position as a music teacher one day each week. I’m thrilled! Teaching fits conveniently amidst selling Medicare Advantage plans, teaching music lessons, and all the other odd jobs I’m doing, and it fulfills me in a way few other things do, besides, of course, writing.
Which brings me to another topic…
Where is book two of the Sword series, Shai?
The title for the second book is The Sword of the Butterfly, and it’s about three-quarters of the way done. Basic survival has slowed progress temporarily, but slow progress is progress no less. My apologies for those who are waiting! I hope to be back on track soon.
I am thankful for my small but loyal fan base and will reward your patience in some way when the book is done. I have some ideas. More on that topic at a later time. Until then, I wish you and yours holidays filled with love, laughter, friends, and family.
Cheers and happy writing/reading,
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d be typing my thoughts out regarding my dear friend, Aiko, on a document in my “Dearly Departed” folder.
I’m called a ‘writer’ and an ‘author’. Words which really mean I talk a lot with my fingertips. I am driven by inspiration, and yet for a week, I’ve been numb, staring in shock at a blank page bearing only her name; Aiko. It’s like I’m stumbling through a room filled with words, unable to connect any of them adequately.
I read the kind words from other friends and coworkers who echo similar sentiment; that she was strong and helped strengthen others.
When I met Aiko, we connected instantly. She was a guitar-wielding, Bible-thumping, God-loving, mountain-climbing adventurer not all that dissimilar to the one I stared at in the mirror daily, but she lacked fear; something that plagued me. I hid my true trembling inner self behind a bold exterior, while her bold exterior matched a bold inner core. I craved that reality in my own life. She possessed the courage to be herself. She was genuine and uninhibited.
She and I talked about taking large boots along to put outside the tent whenever either of us camped alone. I wrote a funny poem about it, but she did it. Like so many people, I benefited from her strength and acceptance.
She didn’t pretend to be strong; she was strong. She didn’t pretend to be in control of herself, she was in control. She didn’t pretend to be brave, every bit of her was brave and at every moment. Whatever she did, she did it boldly and with controlled, thought out steps, right down to her mysterious end.
I had the privilege of being one of her roommates for several years. We had some crazy times with countless gatherings, celebrations, jam sessions, serious talks, and silly moments. One such silly moment was on a Christmas when she and Julie had put together a story to introduce their Christmas gift to me; a standing tool chest, which I still have. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder.
I regularly reflect on the times she and I would play our guitars together and say in my heart, “One of these days we just have to get together to jam again. Someday.” But ‘someday’ just got kicked out into eternity. One song I recall distinctly is from the Along the Road album by Susan Ashton, Christine Dente, and Margaret Becker. It’s called Angels.
“We’re lifted up by angels
Higher than the world
Strong enough to leave it
Bound to learn the secrets
Angels never heard”
It’s a fitting song – lifted up by angels, leaving the world, and secrets.
Some people leave rings on the surface of life’s ocean. Aiko left a big beautiful tsunami. Somehow, I just took it for granted that she would always be there with her guitar, love for God, passion for others, and her unique take on life.
May we understand the true depth of value we had in our dear friend, Cathy Aiko Barkdoll. And may we embrace those we love knowing that none of us is guaranteed another day. (Did I sound like her with this ‘may we’ paragraph? Cuz I was really trying.)
To those of you who loved her, may God comfort you and give you the reassurance that you will see her again one day.
Days are longer and weather patterns are becoming more favorable. Sunglasses and wide brim hats are in fashion, as are retina displays and lounging by the pool, so… it’s a good time to blow the dust off of that novel you were trying to write. I’m talking to myself, too! I’ve got five or more going at any one time, all in various levels of completion.
“I’m too busy.” Oh my, do I get this! Busy is a four letter word. The only real way to combat this is to block off time, guard it like gold, and then sprint! No, don’t put on sneakers and go running, although that isn’t a bad thing in itself. I mean a literary sprint. Select a time frame (I like an hour) and shut off all distractions. Set a timer and go!
Need some help? Like me on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/adairbooks/ and join my new Sprint group, Write Now!
I overheard a conversation recently in which one person said, “If Bill saw you do that, he’d chop your head off! Literally!” Before I sought the help of the FBI to investigate the allegations of Bill the head hacker, I thought it might be prudent to first consider that the only death involved was perhaps that of a word.
Behold and alas! I ruminate with pensive deliberation the various facets of our rich system of communication that languish in agonizing atrophy! Interpretation: I like words. I’m sad they’re neglected and distorted.
Some word morphs are simply a reflection of our changing world, and I am forced to cope with that. When I was young, if I was asked to close a window or share something I had written with someone, I would close a physical window attached to a house and hand someone a piece of paper I had written a story on. ‘Jerk sauce’ was something you poured over someone’s head because they were being unkind. Ah, the good ol’ days when ‘hot’ meant overheated, a ‘thong’ was something you wore on your foot, and ‘bitcoin’ referred to what a toddler did with pocket change. Word’s morph like Odo on Deep Space Nine. It isn’t my favorite fact, but in the words of an old friend, Larry London, “It just is what it is.”
More than the morphing, it is the neglect of the once magnificent words that drive my post today. The Thesaurus is filled with them; nearly forgotten words that pull meaning from the mundane with such deep flavor. The positive side of this neglect is that words retain their meaning better when they are on mothballs. Trains of overused words race by their delectable multi-syllabic cousins sleeping in the shadows of progress. Progress must go on, leaving behind it a wake of beautiful and descriptive words filled with rhythms as rich as their meanings.
I recognize there are those out there who, like myself, have an affection for words and their meaning in literature. So, fellow literature connoisseurs, join with me in the resuscitation of language when ‘er you can. If I don’t know a word you’ve used, I’ll thumb through my dictionary with childish reverie.
Nothing revives language, and the human heart, like poetry. And so I’ve blown the dust off of some precious works that feed the literary flame. Here’s one of my all time favorites. If, by Rudyard Kipling. If half the world lived by the truths held within this poem, our headlines would find rebirth.
Friday I had the privilege of working with the savvy students in Miss Leonard’s class of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. These BCA students soaked up poetry and story writing tips like eager little sponges! Such energy packed into polite and respectful kids.
I’ll visit your class anytime. Blessings on your precious little heads!
I’m home after a very successful set of workshops at the Whatcom County Youth Fair. Creativity flowed and fun was had by all! Students enjoyed the games and activities, as well as the learning material presented. They even had the opportunity to share their work before a live audience.
We wrote stories and poetry together as a group, as well as individually. What a wonderful experience!