Slow Down

My message for today was “Slow Down.”  I went to the mindfulness meditation meeting at church this morning with my mind going 100 miles per hour.  It’s hard to be mindful of your breath and body and sensations in the present moment when you are very busy thinking and planning.  I haven’t said anything on the blog about it, but I am working on that novel.  Not the novel I posted here, but the one that I’d intended to start writing when I began posting “click stories.”

The “clicks” took on a life of their own though and I didn’t really find myself with a lot of extra time to write.  In fact I spent just as much time writing introductions, tweeking the font sizes, and requesting author photos.  I love the click stories though and even wrote a book proposal for a book that would compile all those wonderful stories.  (With the permission from the authors of course.)   I queried about 10 literary agents without getting any requests to see or learn more about the project.  That’s when I originally felt my message was to slow down.

I put that project on the back burner just as the guest posts stopped rolling in.  That is also when I changed my posting schedule to 3 times a week.  When I did this I had more time to just be.  As things quieted down I started to get inspired.  I’ve had the idea for a Young Adult book series for over a year now.   I know the major themes and plot points for 3 of 4 books.  I know the main character and her sidekick.  I’ve been trying and failing to force myself to think about it and to write it.  But finally after so many months I’ve started seeing it again.  When I’m not glued to my computer screen the characters pop into my head.  I can hear their conversations and feel their frustrations.  I’ve actually been writing it.  I set the same goal that worked for me before…3 pages a day.  It has been going very well….

Until….

I found out a friend of a friend is interning for a great New York literary agent from now until September.  They are seeking YA authors to represent.   Suddenly I felt this push to move faster.  I started planning how many pages a day I needed to write to finish the book in August.  I decided 6 would work.  Last night was the first night I tried to write 6 pages.  I successfully completed 1 page.  That’s it.  I didn’t even get my normal 3 finished.  I was frustrated to say the least, but decided it was OK, I’d only lost one day.  I could make up for it over the long haul.

Then I got to church today and was reminded to be mindful and slow down.  I’d started answering those questions on my own again.  The how was this connection to the New York agent and the when was September.  In just 30 minutes, Spirit reminded me that I’m not in charge of those questions.  I only need to remember the power to do it is within me.  Take action in the moment and have faith in the results.  Based on the current political climate and the research I’ve been doing on one of the major events I’m including in the 1st novel, I think this book will be an important and entertaining resource for young people right now.    I don’t want to rush this.   I want to do it right so that it will find it’s way to their hands (or kindles, Ipads, and laptops).

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The Circle Home (3)

The following is the end of chapter one although it does not pick up where Wednesday’s post left off (it skips a few pages).

More Chapter 1

A few more people talked about Mom.  They said she was funny and smart and talked about how much they loved her.  No one talked about the cancer that kept her hooked up to machines in the bed in our living room  Even the home nurse only mentioned her beautiful smile and how it lit up the room on even the darkest days.

After the closing prayer everyone began to leave the room.  Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa stood in the double doorway, shaking hands and hugging guests as they left.  I stayed behind to look for the lady in white.  I ducked between the men and women as they talked about my mother, my family, and the good ole days.

“There goes Emily.  That poor darling.”  One woman whispered.

“Look at that red hair.  She looks like Matt and has Janet’s spunk.”  Another man stated.

Then I saw her.  She was tall, slender, and her skin was clear and radiant.  She was wearing a long white wedding dress, like the one in the portrait, and a crown of daisies atop her blonde curls.  She beckoned me to come closer.

“Mommy?”

“Shhh, not too loud sweetie.”  She whispered.  “I don’t think anyone else can see me.”

“I thought you were in Heaven and then I saw you over there in that box, and now you’re here!”

“I wanted to see how you and Daddy were doing so I thought I’d hang around for a bit.”

“But you died.”  I whispered.

“I know.  It was a nice funeral.”

“Are you a ghost, like Casper?”

“I’m not really sure.  I just want you to know that I’m still here for you.  I want to spend time with you and do some of the things we didn’t get to do when I was so sick.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Do you want to play hide-and-seek?”  Mom asked.

I smiled and nodded.  I ran up the aisle and past the coffin that held the body that looked like my mother.  I climbed up the stairs and hid behind the podium in a small space just my size.  I waited there for Mom to find me.  She surprised me and I giggled when Maw Maw walked right past her and picked me up.

“Emily, this is not the place for games.  Look at what you’ve done.”  Maw Maw pointed to the crowd of people staring at me.  Many of them had taken their tissues out and were crying again.

“But Maw Maw, I was just playing hide-and-seek with Mommy!”

“Don’t be ridiculous.  You need a nap.”  She held me tightly against her.  I smelled the fresh powder on her face and felt the brooch poking against my chest.  I looked over her shoulder.  Mom was following us up the aisle.  She smiled and held a finger to her lip.  I realized then that everyone in the room thought she was gone forever, and only I knew the truth.

The Circle Home (2)

As I stated in Monday’s post, this week I am unplugged and decided to post a little fiction.  This weeks posts are excerpts from the novel I wrote titled The Circle Home.

Chapter 1

My mother died on January 2, 1979, a few months before I turned four-years-old.  She held on long enough to bring in the New Year, but not long enough to celebrate my birthday.  Most of the memories I have of her before she died aren’t really mine.  They’re stories my dad or grandparents told me so many times I began to feel like I was really there.  My first real childhood memory is the day of her funeral.

It was a cold day in January.  We rode silently to McEwen’s funeral home.  We were in Maw Maw and Papa’s light blue Pontiac.  Papa drove with both hands on the steering wheel in a white knuckled death grip.  Dad sat beside him, in the passenger seat, running his hands through his red hair the way he always does when he’s nervous.  I was in the middle of the back seat between Uncle Brian and Maw Maw, perched on the hump which was as close as you got to a car seat in those days.

“Hey Emily, punch bug!”  Uncle Brian gave my arm a little tap.  A yellow Volkswagen Bug had just turned at the stoplight in front of us.

“For God’s sake Brian, we’re on the way to Janet’s funeral not an amusement park.”  Maw Maw pulled a tissue out from her sleeve and dabbed her eyes.  Her hand shook.

“I like to play punch bug, Maw Maw.  Why can’t we play?”

“It’s just not a good time for games, that’s all.”  Dad spoke from the front seat.

“Daddy, when are they bringing the bed back?”  I asked.

“What bed?”

“The special one, that Mommy had in the living room.”

“They’re not bringing it back.  It’ll stay at the hospital now.”

“So, where’s Mommy gonna sleep when she gets back from Heaven?”

Maw Maw reached over and pulled me to her chest and patted my back.  I struggled to get back onto the hump and avoid having my eye poked out by the huge rose brooch she wore on the lapel of her black polyester pantsuit.  Dad lowered his head and shook a little.  Papa reached over and squeezed his freckled neck.  Uncle Brian just stared out the window with his chin resting on his fist and his forehead pressed against the glass.

We got to the funeral home early.  There were only a few cars in the parking lot, including Grandma and Grandpa Lohing’s burgundy Oldsmobile.  Papa pulled into a spot as close to the door as he could get.  Uncle Brian stepped out and reached for me.

“Come on butterfly, let’s dance.”  He lifted me over his head and twirled me around.

He had been calling me that since I had dressed up like a butterfly at Halloween.  Mommy was really sick that night so Brian and his girlfriend, Jennifer, took me trick-or-treating instead of Daddy.  I felt special having a nickname.  “Wheeee!”  I squealed as he spun me around.

“That’s enough Brian.  Put her down and act civilized.”  Maw Maw straightened her Dorothy Hamill haircut with one hand and pulled the glass door open with the other.  I held onto Daddy’s hand as we followed his parents and brother into the funeral home.

Maw Maw walked straight over to Grandma, who was sitting in a metal chair staring glassy-eyed into space.  She was fiddling with the cross around her neck and her mouth was twitching to one side.  Grandpa stood behind her with his hands gently resting on her shoulders.  He was a really tall man, but on that day without his bright smile he seemed too far away to reach.

“Oh Sylvia, I’m so sorry.”  Maw Maw knelt down beside the chair and Grandma fell over into her arms.  They both started crying, making sounds that I’d never heard before.  I kept my distance from them.  I was scared to move closer.

“What’s the matter with them?”  I whispered to Dad.

“They just miss Mommy, Sweetie.”

“But Daddy, she told us she was going away.  I thought they knew it too.”

“It doesn’t mean they don’t miss her.”

“Am I supposed to miss her too?”

“You can feel whatever you want.”

“Is it okay if I’m not sad?”

“Yes.”  Dad replied with tears forming in his eyes.

We stood outside the entrance to the chapel.  The smell of flowers filled the space.  There were arrangements shaped like horseshoes, hearts, and crosses.  I had never seen so many flowers before.  Grandma and Maw Maw stepped through the maze of flowers, pressing their noses to each display and carefully reading the cards.  I followed behind, mimicking their behavior until my dad called me away.

“Emily, come here, I want to show you something.”  He was standing by a portrait.

“Who’s that?”

“That’s your mommy.”

“She looks so pretty!  Where am I?”

“That’s our wedding day.  You weren’t around yet.  You were just a twinkle in her eye.  If you look close I think you can see it.”  Dad pointed to Mom’s eye in the picture.

As the minutes passed I watched more and more people file into the funeral home and fill up the seats in the small chapel. Dad positioned himself at the door to the chapel.  I skipped around the sanctuary, stopping to say hello to Mom lying in the coffin.  She looked like Sleeping Beauty; except I’m pretty sure Sleeping Beauty didn’t wear a wig.

I noticed that everyone wore black and carried tissues.  There were some kids like me.  One boy skipped towards me.  He was smiling and I knew he wanted to play, but his mom pulled him back and gave him a spank.  No one else came near me, but they all watched me skip, even the grownups.  When it was time for the service to begin there were no seats left and all I could hear was sniffling noises.



The Circle Home (1)

This week I am unplugged.  In order to do everything I need to do to prepare for unplugging,  I decided to have a “fiction week” on the blog.  This will be the first of three posts sharing some excerpts from the last novel I wrote (the one that is shelved indefinitely…or permanently).  The novel is titled The Circle Home.

Prologue

Someone once told me when you can’t go any further; you’ve come to your edge.  When you come to the edge a breakthrough is about to happen and you must go further.  I want to remember the person I was and the road I’ve traveled.  If peace has found a place in my heart, it’s because I crawled over the edge and found my way home.

The house is silent, outside still dark. It’s my favorite time of day when the only light here is the 60 watt bulb in the lamp beside me.  The only sounds are the creaking of the house and the coffee mug landing gently on the side table as I set it down.

The Christmas tree is still up, though not lit.  It is almost New Year’s.  I walk over and gaze at the tree, stopping at my favorite ornament, picking it up.  It’s one of those macaroni wreaths.  We made it the last Christmas my mother was with us.  I am pulled away from my thoughts by the sound of tiny footsteps.  I look up and see Janie Beth rounding the corner.  Her wild blonde curls are shooting out in all directions and she is rubbing her eyes.  She looks at me and smiles.  Suddenly the room and my life have more light in them.

“Good morning, Sweet Girl!”  I place the ornament back on the tree.

“Mornin Mama.”  She holds her arms out to me, lips poked out.  I lift her up and give her a kiss.  “Hey, it’s our ornament.”

I learn so much watching the way this little girl moves people.  She’s breathed life into me and everyone around her. Even the dog forgets how old he is in her presence.  We all call her JB, except for my father.  He calls her Janet two, because even at three-years-old she’s the only person who can make him laugh the way my mother could.  Last month, right after he found out my stepmother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, JB said to him, “Gammy Beth’s gonna be okay, Pop.”  He smiled when there shouldn’t have been a smile left in him.  I think he believed her more than the oncologist.  I believe her too.  My little girl knows things, even if she doesn’t remember why.

Once when she was just a year old she pointed to the scar on my chin and said “boo-boo”.  It was a scar I had gotten when I was a baby too.  My father had told me the story many times; it was his last tangible memory of my mother and me together.  She was teaching me to walk and I got too close to the hearth.  When I started to fall she didn’t reach me in time and I hit my chin on the bricks.  Dad ran out of the room for a towel and some ice and when he came back Mom was using her favorite sweater as a compress.  She held me tightly and rocked me as I cried.  Dad said he saw tears streaming out of her eyes.  He’d joked that he’d get her a new sweater if that one was ruined.

Losing Mom was hard.  Grandma and Grandpa were never quite the same, at least that’s how the story goes.  I was just grateful that Grandma lived long enough to meet Janie Beth.  I think in the end she knew the truth about her great-granddaughter.  It’s a truth I’ve known since I gave birth to her and have only ever shared with my best friend, who happens to be her father.  What I love most about him is that he believes me.

Absent from Cyber-space

I am going to be unplugged for a week (mostly).  As always,  I have things scheduled and ready despite my absence from cyber-space.

I am a bit unprepared for blogging tonight.  I was hoping to have a click story from a new friend but she ran out of time (the window I gave her was very small) and couldn’t get it to me before scheduling time.  You will hear from her in the future though.

Next week I’ve decided to do “fiction week.”  I will be posting scenes from my second novel, The Circle Home.  I was inspired to write this novel after attending the funeral of one of my sorority sisters who died a few years ago.  I watched my Zeta sister’s 3-year-old daughter at the funeral and hoped that she was still connected to her mom.  I imagined that maybe she could even see and talk to her.  After that I decided to write a novel about a girl who lost her mom but stayed connected to her.  What you will read is the prologue and parts of chapter 1 from the story.  I queried a handful of agents with The Circle Home and ultimately decided to shelf it indefinitely.  It’s not all bad though, which is why I decided to share a little bit.

Have a great week and if I ignore your comments just know it’s only because I am not online.  And before I send you on your way without giving you much to read, here is my favorite (of what I’ve read so far) post from Alisha @ Stories of Sommer.   Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Namaste!

Action=No Action?

So, I have been on this kick lately where I feel like I need to DO something.  I’ve thought about editing my first novel and my second.  I’ve thought about beginning a complete rewrite of both of them.  The idea has crossed my mind that I could turn each of them into a book series which would make 2 books equal 5 or 6.  I’ve also thought about burning them.  I’ve considered applying to grad school or just applying for a part time job at Border’s.  It has occurred to me that I could volunteer my time to a good cause.  I’m also interested in learning HTML so that I can buy a real domain name and grow this blog (which I think I need to be a little more computer literate to do).  I also ought to continue where I left off with the decluttering project, seeing as I only got as far as two closets.  I’d love to spend like 5 more hours a week in the gym so that I can work on that ideal bod.  These are all actions I could take, yet I don’t seem to have the incentive or passion to.

As I was going down the list of coulds and shoulds, I was reminded that I want to follow my heart and trust myself.  Everytime I sit down to do something I should do, it feels wrong.  I feel as if I am once again going against the current.  My body always lets me know when I am making the wrong choice or pushing something that isn’t ready to budge just yet.  Even thinking about those books gets my stomach flipping, yet my passion is still writing and the ideas swimming in my head make me feel alive.  I think it is a matter of timing.  When I first got the idea to write that second novel I told myself that I would write it when I couldn’t not write it.  And that’s just what I did.  One day I sat down and poof, out of nowhere, I outlined the entire story.  A day or two later I began writing it.  That’s how it works I think.  You first must know that you can do it and trust that it will happen when the time is right.

So for now, I think the best action for me is no action at all.  I have never in my life been in a position, like I am now, where I can just be.  I can sit peacefully with a faithful knowing that the pieces will fall into place and I will be guided to DO when the time is right.  When it is time for me to move…I WILL know it.

Today, I am going to BE at the pool and Starbucks with a pastry!