Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Goals Realized

From time to time I enjoy reading my journals from the past. It's encouraging to see what I've accomplished and how I've grown over the years. I came across this entry from 2006, eight years ago, and was surprised to see that I've accomplished all but one of my goals. I'm not published yet, at least in the way I want to be. I had some poems published in the local newspaper when I was in high school, and my photography was featured in an interview for a local magazine a few years back, but I want to write a book and have it published.

There's just something about writing goals down that make them happen. Yes, you have to work to make them become reality, but that first act of getting them out of your head and into the world on paper is a huge first step to making them real. All the experts say so. Read their books. It's true.

For some clarity on #5, Gayle is my husband.

I'd encourage all of you to keep a journal. If you can't look back at where you were, how can you measure your growth? I highly recommend it to all as a way to gauge your progress on goals and in life.

P.S. In my list of spiritual books for that year, I have listed The Power of Now. Don't waste your time. The best thing I got from that book was the title.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hope, Love, and Life

"Hope is stronger than fear; love is greater than grief; life is mightier than death; disaster is an incident of time. The shadows and rain of today will nourish the blossoms of tomorrow." Archibald Rutledge

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Before Daybreak

"It is a habit of my life always to be out of the house before daybreak. There are sights and sounds, there is a glory on the world then that it hardly wears at any other time. And I treasure the memories of things seen and heard then." Archibald Rutledge from Home By the River

I totally agree with Mr. Rutledge. I can count on one hand the number of times in a year that I miss the sunrise on any given day. It's the loveliest time, so quiet not even the birds are awake yet. It's a hovering between two worlds not unlike the ebb tide; a suspension of time almost mystical.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Gift From The Sea; Eleventh Reading

I think that Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book Gift From the Sea has influenced me more than any other. It's the only book that I've read so many times; eleven to be exact! With each reading I find new tidbits of wisdom or some part of her life which I can relate to mine at this moment. This is what makes it so timeless.

This present reading, I enjoyed her description of a perfect beach day (spent with her sister) which she will take home with her and try to imitate in her everyday life. "One perfect day can give clues for a more perfect life." Her day went like this: A morning swim in the sea followed by breakfast on the back porch. A few morning chores then the rest of the morning is spent in writing. Lunch and chores and errands are followed by an afternoon on the beach letting thoughts run where they will. At dusk, she returns to the cottage and sips sherry before the open fire. Supper and talk while washing up the dishes and a last walk on the beach before retiring finish out the night.

This is the daily rhythm Anne prefers: Morning is for mental work, afternoon is for physical tasks and out-of-door jobs, and evening is for sharing. I like this daily order myself. One thing I need to change to line up more with this ideal is to do less work after breakfast. I get started on cleaning right after breakfast, and before I know it it's 10:30 with the most mentally productive part of the morning eaten up by physical work. Then I'm too tired to do much deep thinking, so this will be a goal of mine this school year.

And as I find it hard to sit down and write or blog with a dirty house, I'll try and do a tidy-up at night before bed so most of that work will be done then and not in the morning.

I've read quite a few books about artists and their habits. Many of them choose Anne's pattern of work. Some go back in the afternoon for another long writing session. These are men who have wives to do the housework, so they don't have to bother with domestic tasks too much, or else they can write in the midst of chaos.

What patterns of work have you readers established for yourselves? I'm especially interested in writers/artists and your schedules. What works best for you? I'd love to hear!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sophistication Defined

"I have the gravest suspicions of sophistication. I have never discovered it in nature; and to me it seems that instead of being a proof of enlightenment and culture, it is the evidence rather of ignorance, and perhaps of folly. It is the triumph of shallowness and sterility. The real trouble with a sophisticated person is that he knows too much, not that he knows too little." Archibald Rutledge

I've never desired to be sophisticated, mainly because I associate it with formal wear, cigarettes in long holders, and a studied boredom; things that make me want to run the other way. But Mr. Rutledge nails it on the head with his description, doesn't he?

Here's a little bit of information on Archibald Rutledge. He was once South Carolina's poet laureate and lived at Hampton Plantation, a little bit north of Charleston. He wrote quite a few books of poetry and of his growing up years on the plantation. I've read a few, and they're charming. I bought Life's Extras on Amazon. There are many copies available online. His most well-known and popular is Home By The River. Someday I hope to go visit the house which is open year-round to visitors.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reading On Vacation and Other Packing Tips

Our week at the beach is coming up soon, and I'm picking out the books to take. Beach reading requires something light and fun; no thick tomes to digest. Who can think much with the sun baking your brain and the crashing waves obliterating all your thoughts and turning you into complete jelly? So definitely something light; the term 'beachtrash' comes to mind.

I'm sure there are plenty of people like me, or should that be I, who pick their books to match their travel environment. In the past I've picked Jane Eyre while traveling in Yorkshire, England, Beach Music by Pat Conroy to read on the coast of South Carolina, Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh for Sanibel Island, Florida or really any beach, Dylan Thomas for our trip to Wales, The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell while in London, A Moveable Feast by Hemingway in Paris, Sir Walter Scott in Scotland, Washington Irving on a lovely trip to the Hudson River Valley in New York State, the Charleston novels of Karen White while in Charleston, South Carolina, and again Pat Conroy's South of Broad for Charleston.

The little island where we're going has two different places to borrow books; the convenience store which has an 'honor system' where you just take what you want to read and bring it back and the more organized, public library where you do the same. No librarian on duty! I've always thought that I'd love to not bring any books with me and just read what I find that week on the island. The house we rent always has plenty of books, too.

But fear keeps me from doing that. What if I get almost to the end but can't finish one? I wouldn't/couldn't take it home with me, so I'd have to try to find it in our library in town. Much too much trouble! But someday, I promise I'm going to not take one single, solitary book with me to the beach!

But this isn't someday it's today, so this is what I've packed so far: The Pat Conroy Cookbook which is full of stories and anecdotes about people he's cooked with (Natalie Dupree, for one) and food he's eaten. If you're familiar with Mr. Conroy's style of writing, you know good and well that he wouldn't fill a cookbook with just recipes! Can you tell that I like him? Gift From the Sea...again. I've read it 14 times already(literally), and it always goes with me to the sea. That's a given. And last is Home By the River by Archibald Rutledge whose ancestral Hampton Plantation is but a daytrip north of where we'll be on Fripp Island. Mr. Rutledge was once South Carolina's poet laureate, and he wrote extensively about the plantation and his growing up years there. I've read a few of his books, and they're delightful for young and old. And that's it. Just three. I'm tempted to take more, so many more, but I'll leave room for the ones I plan on finding on the island.

It's a joke in our family about how I pack for any trip we're taking. I'll tell my 15-year-old to pack light meaning for her not to take two outfits for every day and to limit her makeup to one small case. When she tells me to pack light, she means to not weigh down my one suitcase with too many books, paints, and other projects. My clothes and makeup could fit it in one Kroger sack! I have MY priorities straight!

And someday will I not only NOT take ANY books to the beach, I'm not taking anything but the clothes on my back. I'll just pick up some toothpaste and a toothbrush at the little store on island, a few cans of Beanie Weanies and saltines, an apple or two, and pat myself on the back for being so unfettered with life's distractions and accoutrements. But one thing is certain. The rental house had BETTER be full of paperback beachtrash!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rules of Work From a Master

Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Albert Einstein

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Life Re-examined...Again!

My bookgroup read 7 by Jen Hatmaker in March. This was my second reading of that book. Each time read got me to thinking more about the excess in my life, something I've been working on for the last five years or so.

I've decided to take each of her 7 categories of excess and work on each one for a month. So this is what my schedule looks like.

April-Clothes (a good time as I'll be changing out my winter clothes for summer ones)
May-Possessions (major decluttering)
June-Media (mostly eliminating the over 400 e-mails hanging around in my inbox and getting my photos organized)
July-Waste (we have too much trash)
August-Stress (school will be starting again. Nuf said)
September-Shopping (I spend more from Sept.-Dec. than any other months)

I'm really excited to get rid of anything excessive in my life. I know my children will thank me one day after I've departed this life and they don't have to go through it all!

Here's how March went:
I've tried on and off to lose weight for the last ten years without much success. Never having had a weight problem before, it's vexing to have one now. I'm not grossly overweight. I've just become kind of square in shape, even though I have an hourglass figure. There's just too much sand in the hourglass!

I've learned a lot from my oldest daughter about Paleo, Whole30, and clean eating. So after reading the Food chapter in 7, something just clicked and I was ready. I borrowed It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig and started reading. I picked a day to begin and eliminated dairy, wheat, sugar(mostly),legumes, and all grains.

The purpose of Whole30 is to eliminate all foods from your diet that are known to cause inflammation and bad digestion. It really wasn't hard at all for me. I didn't have the flu-like symptoms a lot of people do, I think because I normally eat pretty well anyway. I just have sugar binges on occasion.

Well, at the end of the 30 days, I was definitely happier. My children commented on that. It affected my mental/emotional state more than anything. Oh, and I lost ten pounds! That alone was amazing, since it's been such a struggle for so long. Also gone was my depression and feelings of being overwhelmed and hopeless. And my stomach isn't bloated nearly as much.

After the 30 days are past, you are supposed to slowly add back in each of the food groups to see how they affect you and whether you want to add them back into your diet. Well, I didn't do very well on this part, so I'm starting another round, maybe 3 weeks this time, and THIS time I'll do the reintroduction right.

I do know that I'm never going to go back to my old habits of eating even if they were better than most peoples. It just doesn't work for me anymore. I want to find out what foods are causing the persistent cough I've had for over 25 years. I'm tired of feeling like an old woman when I know I can feel better. I already do!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Let Books Be Your Friends

If you cannot read all your books...fondle them---peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances. Winston Churchill

Thanks,Gretchen, for this quote. You can find Gretchen's blog here:http://gretchenjoanna.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2013 Reading Challenges Revisited

Last year I set for myself two reading challenges; one was Victorian Literature and the other was Elizabeth Goudge. I managed to read eight in each category; not the twelve I had intended, but probably, no definitely, more than I would have read if I hadn't made the challenges.

Here's the lists of the ones I read.


1. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-Robert Louis Stevenson
2. The Way of All Flesh-Samuel Butler
3. The Woman in White-Wilkie Collins
4. The Soul of Man-Oscar Wilde
5. Lady Audley's Secret-M.E. Braddon
6. The Story of the Amulet-E. Nesbit
7. At the Back of the North Wind-George MacDonald
8. Lady Windermere's Fan-Oscar Wilde


1. The Castle on the HIll
2. The Dean's Watch
3. Pilgrim's Inn
4. The Scent of Water
5. Linnets and Valerians
6. The Lost Angel
7. Gentian Hill
8. A City of Bells

My favorite Victorian read was Lady Audley's Secret. There's also a movie that sticks pretty close to the book and was enjoyable. I also liked Lady Windermere's Fan. As usual, Wilde is funny with everyone planning and plotting to have things their own way while getting tripped up in all the twists and turns of their actions.

My favorite Goudge book is so hard to say as I loved all of them. I'm continuing the challenge into this year as I'm planning on reading ALL her works as well as owning them all before I'm finished with the challenge. I guess if I had to pick, it would be a tie between A City of Bells and The Dean's Watch. She can't be read quickly. You don't just read her words but savor them as you would the memory of a dinner party with close family or friends. You know that good feeling of love and camaraderie you have during and after such an event. Add in a mystical wonderment to that feeling and you have the essence of a Goudge novel.

There are a few more Victorian novels I plan on reading this year that didn't get read in 2013. They are: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade. I was going to add The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope, but he's getting his own separate challenge.

So the two main challenges for 2014 are Elizabeth Goudge and Anthony Trollope. I read 86 books last year. Each new year I usually try and beat the number of the previous year, but I'm not doing that this year. I think I've been reading too much in place of other creative projects I want to be doing. It's just easier. All I have to do is pick up a book and plop down on the couch. Beginning and completing a project is much harder but much more satisfying when it's finished.

So...I'll hopefully be reading two books a month for my challenges, one for my bookgroup, one spiritual/creative, and any other ones I can squeeze in that are new fiction from the library or something from my own stacks. One year I need to have a challenge to read what I already have in my own library!

How do you read? Do you set challenges or just fly by the seat of your pants/skirt?