Chipping Away–CoronaLife Day 880

We’re closing in on the August halfway point. Hard to believe!

I did not get much done in the writing world this week, as Board of Education work is ramping up again. I’ve been chipping away at various projects for that this week, and another landed in my inbox today.

My daughter has camp next week, which will mean about 2 hours of driving for me per day. But I hope to use the rest of the day to get into my next writing project.

I had put my YA scifi Veritas on hold as life overtook me. I am in the midst of a major rewrite, and did not have the time, quiet, or mind space to focus on its complexities. I am planning on returning to it next week, remind myself what I’m doing, and getting back into it.

It was between Veritas and the sequel to The Witch of Zal, which I do have a first draft of complete. But the characters in Veritas have been intruding into my thoughts frequently, so I’m taking that as a sign that Veritas is ready for me to return.

That’s my plan. We shall see how it works out!

How is your August going?

Enter August–CoronaLife Day 873

August has arrived, quietly, with little fanfare. It rather snuck up on me, honestly. It seemed so far off, and then…here it is.

This week has been pretty quiet on the writing front. I have been taking care of other business, mostly my Board of Education duties as a new school year approaches.

I have also completed the first (and hardest) part of a photo project I am working on. The rest will be both tedious and meticulous, but not really difficult.

I am digging into my Irish genealogy again, trying to put some pieces together. My current frustration is that people that have my supposed family in their tree are not DNA matches to my mother, while people who are DNA matches do not have that family in their tree.

I have tried a tool called Auto Clustering for my mom, and I will see if it yields any clues.

I am hoping to use this week as prep time, so I can spend the week my daughter is at camp focused on writing. Sort of a mini-writing retreat, only I have to drive her a half-hour each way every day.

The class before my daughter’s at swimming is the infants. They are infinitely adorable as they learn to navigate this new medium. They of course don’t swim yet (they can’t even walk), but they are learning not to be afraid and to have fun.

I see a metaphor for writing there. Most writers dove in because it was fun. As we slowly mastered the new medium, it became more technical, harder to float. The deeper we got, the more often we felt close to drowning.

Sometimes we need to stop flailing and take a deep breath. Fly through the water and trust all that we have learned will hold us up. Find the fun.

Happy August, everyone!

Liminal Space—CoronaLife Day 866

A person I know via Facebook lost his wife this week. She had fought a long fight against cancer, but ultimately her body gave out. She was at home on hospice when she passed.

He commented once on the painful duality of her being there but knowing she would soon not be there, and that got me thinking of liminal space, that border world between the here and the  hereafter.

I have been privileged to be in that liminal space twice in my life. As difficult as that space is, it is a gift. That time, that feeling, is unlike anything else I have experienced.

I am not religious, but that time, that collision of the here and the hereafter, feels sacred. The world outside disappears. You suddenly know what really matters. For that time, your job doesn’t matter, politics doesn’t matter, none of the things that weigh so heavily on your daily life matter. Time stops. The world contracts to that room.

In that room, that sacred liminal space, the here and the hereafter overlap, like a double exposure photograph. Your loved one is both here and there. Your heart is both here and there.

The final transition, when it comes, is palpable. You feel their soul come free. And suddenly, they are at peace. Their pain, their struggle, is done.

And you are both grateful and heartbroken.

For the liminal space has collapsed, and you are left bereft in the here.

But love never dies, and in time you will find that love creating liminal spaces when you least expect them. Don’t let grief blind you to those connections.

The veil between the here and the hereafter is thinner than we believe.

Heat Wave!—CoronaLife Day 859

We are experiencing the first major heat wave of the summer. I mean temperatures at 100 degrees. I’ve heard the National Weather Service has issued instructions on how to bake a lasagna in your mailbox.

More extreme weather has been becoming more the norm in my area over the past few years. Multiple tornadoes, stronger hurricanes, more forest fires, warmer winters, and hotter summers.

Climate change is here to stay.

Thing is, hot weather like this makes me lazy. Coupled with the childhood-learned summer slowdown reflex, I hibernate in the air conditioning and the summer malaise creeps into my soul.

Still, there is much to be done, so I will have to shake it off and get to work eventually.

I am in the midst of a photo project, which will take me longer than I had anticipated (don’t they always?). I also need to do some research into trade reviews and book bloggers for an upcoming book.

I need to create and print the pamphlet for my Board of Education run. And there is current BOE business to attend to.

And the usual family stuff. It may be summer, but we still have doctors’ appointments, swimming, ninja gym, and visits with family, as well as all the usual routine things.

I have plenty to fill my days, if only the heat wave would release me from its spell!

The Return–CoronaLife Day 852

My daughter used to do ninja warrior/parkour classes. She stopped in about 3rd grade. But lately, she’s been wanting to try it again, so we went back this week.

She had a great time, wants to go back again.

One of the reasons she stopped was because she kept comparing herself to other kids who were better than her. Kids who were at the gym for hours literally every day, practicing, while she was there 2xs a week. Kids who were on the competitive team.

She was too young to understand that a) there’s almost always someone better than you at everything in life, and b) this was about having fun, not competing, so the only judging she should be doing is if she enjoyed it.

Now she’s heading into 7th grade, and I think she’s finally learning that not everything in life is a competition, and she can do things just because she finds it fun.

I can learn some lessons from her as a writer, because the pandemic killed my creativity, and my writing ground almost to a halt.

I am slowly coming back to it, and I have to remember to enjoy it, and stop comparing myself to other writers. I am not them. They might have been able to write 8 books and get them all published during Covid, but I couldn’t. I spent much of the pandemic struggling with out of control anxiety, where I was lucky to simply accomplish the necessities of life each day.

I can also learn from my daughter because she is not in the same physical shape she was in when she was in 3rd grade. She was actually really good when she was younger. But pre-teen couch potato syndrome has set in (compounded by the pandemic isolation). So she has to build herself back up to it.

I, too, need to build my writing muscles back up. My concentration is not what it was. Just a few hours of work is exhausting. It’s mentally taxing to create! So like my daughter, I need to work back up to my old level.

I’ve just completed the final edits to my middle grade historical adventure, The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone. My co-author and I will now decide whether to make one more attempt at traditional publishing, or go with self-publishing.

And so the return begins.

Summer Sluggishness–CoronaLife Day 845

I always feel like summer is a time to kick back and relax. A lazy languor takes hold and I don’t feel like doing much.

That feeling must be a holdover from childhood, because the reality of adulthood is that nothing is slower in the summer. If you have younger kids that need entertaining, it can actually be more hectic than school time!

I do get more sleep in the summer, because I can sleep later now that I don’t have to get up when my daughter does. And being self-employed, my boss is very flexible with my hours.

We had Covid in the house the past few weeks, as my husband had it. While that did require juggling to keep him quarantined, my daughter and I did not get it from him.

It’s funny how much a disruption in routine can knock you sideways. As someone with anxiety disorder, I do best with routines. Because once my anxiety starts to inch up, things fall apart. And with the state of the world lately, my anxiety is always simmering very close to spillover.

But things at home are back to normal now, and I am starting to regain my footing.

Now I just have to convince my adult brain that summer is not, in fact, a vacation.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times—CoronaLife Day 831

Sunday was a bit of an up-and-down day.

I have a drawing I did myself of the group The Monkees. Over the years, I got three of them to sign it. The final Monkee was almost impossible to get, but then one of my best friends got backstage passes to meet him, and offered to take my picture and get him to sign it. So I FedExed it across the country and she got it for me!

I got the drawing back home safely (her mom personally brought it home when she visited). I scanned it for safety’s sake, and then put it away somewhere secure.  So secure, that when I next went to look for it, I could not find it. I was heartbroken. So I have been searching for it off and on literally for YEARS. No luck.

I found it on Sunday.

I wasn’t even looking for it. I was cleaning up my office and going through a stack of stuff, and found a padded FedEx envelope and looked inside. AND THERE IT WAS!

I admit to some tears. I was so, so happy. And I promptly told my husband and child where it was in case I forgot again.

So Sunday was a good day.

Sunday was also the day my husband returned home from a trip. That was good, obviously. However, he was not feeling well. On Monday the COVID test came back positive.

We scrambled to take precautions as recommended by the doctors. I moved downstairs, he tried to stay in our room as much as he could, and we all masked when he couldn’t and tried to stay out of the same room. I also opened the windows on the lower floor to get fresh air circulating.

As of this writing, my daughter (who had it in January) and I have no symptoms, and my husband is feeling better.

Please be careful out there, people. My husband is the 5th person I know who traveled and ended up with COVID. Two got it days after returning home, and two others got it on their vacation and were stuck an extra week overseas because they could not fly home, incurring a week’s worth of expenses they had not counted on and missing work they had not intended to miss.

The virus is still very active, still mutating, still spreading, still killing people—which is why my blog posts still carry the CoronaLife Day tally.

Here’s hoping my daughter and I stay clear of the virus! Stay safe, everyone!

Last Week of School—CoronaLife Day 824

It’s the last week of school! The last week of school! Come Friday my daughter will be on summer break.

I have no idea why I am excited about this.

It must be a holdover from childhood, because having her home 24/7 actually makes more work for me. Mostly in the form of trying to pry her from the screen and get some exercise. She is in the “pre-teen lump on sofa” phase of development.

The good news is that I can return to my more comfortable night-owl sleep schedule. My daughter does not need me to get up with her, so I can sleep in. Which hopefully will result in closer to 8 hours of sleep than the 6 I routinely get now.

While summer is often the time for vacations, we have no long trips planned, but may take day trips from time to time. And my daughter has an animation camp in August, which will involve plenty of driving for me, as it is about half an hour away.

But overall, it should be a fairly relaxed summer.

We are in need of some relaxation, because the return to school this year was fraught. Covid was (is) still not under control in our area, so it was a constant worry, particularly since my daughter could not be vaccinated until November. The Omicron spike was terrible here, and lots of kids and teachers were out of school. My daughter caught it in January. We all caught the flu in May. My daughter was a trooper through it all, getting straight As all year. Still, we will be glad to have some quiet, non-people-y time. Hopefully the latest mini-surge we are seeing in our area will subside with the cessation of school and things will be more normal.

One goal I have for this summer is to get my daughter to make more of her meals and do more around the house. At her age, she needs to be more independent–and I’m rather tired of feeling like a maid. So that’s a summer project.

Looking forward to a (mostly) slow and lazy summer!

Do you have summer plans?

Breaking the Time Loop–CoronaLife Day 817

I don’t know about you, but ever since the pandemic started, I have felt a stifling sameness. In the beginning, isolation gave every day the feeling of a life on repeat.

Even as things have opened up, I have not felt much relief. In spite of more activity, more interaction, this pandemic’s stubborn refusal to end has lent a sense of frozen eternity to my days.

Today, for the first time, I experienced time lurching forward again. A glimpse of a future free of this disease. All thanks to some 4 and 5 year olds.

I had the pleasure of attending our school’s first-ever Pre-K Step Up to Kindergarten ceremony. The children’s young innocence was a breath of hope. They embodied the limitless possibilities of the future, a future they will help shape.

They do not remember a life before the pandemic, but their faces radiated excitement, joy, and pride. There was no fear. This world is their world, and they will have the tools to navigate it and make it better.

For now, they are looking forward to summer adventures and making new friends in Kindergarten. But I look at them and see a future of unimaginable promise.

With them, time has started moving again.

BOGO Book Fair–CoronaLife Day 810

Normally, our school librarian throws a Summer Reading Send Off, where kids come into the library, borrow books for the summer, and get some ice cream. It is a TON of work, but our librarian goes above and beyond to foster love of reading.

This year, we had the opportunity to do a THIRD book fair, at the end of the year. So we jumped at the chance, to get books into kids’ hands for the summer that they could keep. It was easier for the librarian, and it allowed her to take a much more accurate inventory over the summer.

This third book fair has a twist, though. It is a BOGO, buy one get one free. Which means the kids get twice the books for their money. The book fair was smaller than the others, but the selection was good. The only drawback is that we cannot reorder books we sell out of to restock. However, there is an online component, so parents can order any book they really wanted from there.

The excitement from the kids for this book fair has been tremendous! I’m not sure if it’s the BOGO aspect, or just end of year enthusiasm, but books are flying off the shelf. Thursday is the last day of the fair, and we should just make it, inventory-wise.

I love that our school encourages and supports reading so much. I love the enthusiasm of our librarian, and of the PTA volunteers who run the fairs. And I LOVE the kids’ faces as they buy their books, with huge smiles and shining eyes.

Happy reading!

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