Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving thanks for changes

As the Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the changes in my life over the last few years. There have been many.

Time marches on, and with the passing of my grandparent’s generation, my family has drifted into the busyness of our individual lives. To recreate the big traditional dinner we once shared is too exhausting to contemplate, so we don’t. I make myself content knowing that all but one of my family is in good health, and the youngest generation, while it’s unlikely I will get to know them well, are thriving.

Those around me in busyness, mostly at my day job, bemoan the same changes in their own families. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a good job, you’re working harder than ever just to tread water. And we’re told to get used to it, because the demand that we work harder and harder with fewer rewards is now the new norm. We’re older, but we dare not falter, not with pensions to protect.

I am thankful to have a job, no matter what it does to my mental and emotional health. I’m even more thankful to have my mortgage paid in full.

This year, the Thanksgiving table I sat at was not my own, and while the hosts graciously included my mother and stepdad, I was not among family. My partner was, and for that I am thankful, even as my soul was lonely for my own bygone days. The conversation swirled around me with chitchat about people I don’t know and have no connection to, all in that family world in which I have no history. But I am thankful they value me enough to include me at their table.

Trips down memory lane are counterproductive. With family scattering, and friends determined to run away from their lives to warmer climes, the years to come will see my Thanksgiving rituals be private ones. This I know, and to survive the holidays on my own, I will need to guard them well. I am thankful to have the strength to accomplish this.

But if just one thing in life is constant, it is that change is inevitable. Sometimes one is even thankful for those changes. The wheel may yet turn full circle some future day, and the Thanksgiving table I sit at will be among my own. I would like that, and be doubly thankful.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Life this Labor Day

This Labor Day weekend is a mixed bag for me. I'm grateful to have a job, but concerned what will happen in 2011. I see changes on the horizon, that like this weekend, are mixed.

Being a holiday weekend, I stacked a few vacation days before and after so that I have six days in a row for rest and relaxation. HA! What rest? So far this mini-vacation I've met with my financial advisor, stacked firewood, weed whacked for my neighbor (I gotta get me one of those battery-powered things!), spread mulch, helped re-lay a walkway made with pavers, been to the grocery twice, tackled laundry, went on a bike ride, and in between it all, I've written (blogs count, right?).

This is rest?

The folks will be here this afternoon for a nice grilled dinner. Maybe I'll get to rest tomorrow. HA!

Don't be fooled. I am blessed. I have great health and energy, and I have family and friends around me, and they are basically healthy right now. I have two great jobs - helping people and writing. If the day job gets shaky in 2011, and we go to a four-day work week, that will give me more time to write. My home is paid for, and it won't hurt me to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle. I am truly blessed.

Not everyone is so lucky.

This Labor Day my thoughts are with those who work hard for a living, who save when they make enough to do so, who live modestly, and through no fault of their own have lost their jobs. Do the big boys with all the money who manipulated the rest of us into this crisis feel their pain? I don't think so, and that makes me angry.

Too many good people are struggling this Labor Day. I look at my own fears for the future - will I be able to continue to enjoy all the things I've worked for my entire life? Will I be able to actually retire some day? Would I be able to financially weather a health crisis? When will I have saved enough to be able to replace my eleven year old vehicle?

If I experience these fears, from my little sheltered tower, how much worse is it for those in the trenches? I can only imagine.

The future is clouded for a reason. In my life, I think it's to encourage me to live in the now. To embrace what I have. To let go of worry and to trust that a loving God will, indeed, see me through.

It ain't easy, but I'll continue to work hard at it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

To serve the future best

It's been a long, hot summer. Is that an understatement? Depends on where you live. It's almost September, and it hasn't cooled off. I begin to think the snows of last winter are preferable. The heat sucks the energy out of a person, leaving the body listless but the brain overactive.

I've been grappling with what is a serious issue in a writer's life: What do I need to do to continue in this business? A straightforward question, but one with multi-tiered implications and few pat answers.

"They" say to be successful in epublishing you need to maintain a current Internet presence and promote. Let's face it. You can't spend your time on the Internet sucking up to everyone and still have time - and energy - to write something. Maybe I shouldn't mention this, but I've been a few places on the Internet that exhibit a decided lack of maturity, and therefore are not a good way to spend valuable time.

It's been a long process, but several of the epublishing houses have accomplished what I always knew would happen. The cream is rising. I have a very short list of houses I would allow my name to be associated with, which brings me to the thorniest consideration of all: The Name.

It's well accepted among authors that name recognition can run a course, and when that happens, it's okay to start over with a new pen name. Perhaps that has some merit for the Rayne Forrest name.

"Rayne" didn't know much when she started out. A smidgen of talent got her started, but she made a lot of mistakes. Her voice is stronger now, more confident. She has matured along with the epublishing industry. So how best to step into tomorrow without letting go of best things of the past? Those best things being a readership that appreciated the Rayne Forrest brand.

Thorny, yes? Insurmountable, no.

As the industry moves forward, so will I. Blending a past imperfect with plans for the future bright is something we all do every day. The past is a road map that shows us what works, and those pitfalls we stumbled into. Yes, it's too bad the map stops abruptly at our feet without showing us the next proper step, but that's what makes it interesting.

Have I allowed this internal debate to interfere with moving forward? Has it stopped me from taking that next step with fears of a misstep? Sadly, I think it has. But the need to share my thoughts tells me that a decision is at hand. I only wish I knew for sure what it will be.

All I know is that in my own personal life, the decision will come in the midst of doing something else. It will simply be there as if it had always existed, and I'll know it's the right thing for me.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A new season

1There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

When I stop moving, stop working, stop hustling and bustling around, these ancient words always come to mind. In typical fashion, I usually remember the opening in reverse, “for everything there is a time,” but I don’t think that matters too much. It doesn’t change the meaning of the words, or how I apply them to my life. Most recently, my life has seen a season of trying new things, and laying the groundwork for my last working years. A time to plant, as it were.

At a glance, those two things might seem to be at odds, but my life is one of polar opposites. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini. Anyway, I’ve gone through a time of serious home improvement work with new roof shingles, the installation of a central air conditioning system, and now a roof over my patio. All of this was done to ‘feather my nest’ in preparation of scaling back and working less hours. If the economy cooperates, it may actually happen.

It’s been difficult to be away from the writing, but it was important to accomplish these items without incurring any debt. I love to write! It defines who I am in ways nothing else does. Yes, I’m someone’s wife, someone’s best friend, someone’s daughter, but that defines me in relation to another. That I am a writer defines me to myself.

So, a season of hard work is behind me, one I don’t regret experiencing. I learned something every step of the way, which I consider important. I’ve eased into a season of taking better care of myself so I can once again tap into that central part of me and let the words flow. I’m more than a little excited at the prospect.

Where should I go first? What new characters await me? Can I attain the new goals I seek? I will if it is my season to do so. I’ve scattered so many stones along the way. It could be my time to gather them together and shore up old bridges even as I build new ones.

As exciting as it is to move forward again, it’s also daunting. The mistakes of the past, the ones that made it easy to set aside my keyboard for a small space of time, will always plague me. In the epublishing business, those mistakes were, and remain, visible. All I can do is set them behind me, and hope the lessons learned were not in vain. It is time to trust that the right people will come into my life.

And it’s time to trust that you are still there, waiting for a story.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Website fun, snowblowing, and a little success

It's been a snowy winter at my little house in the woods. My beloved has kept track, and we've had a total of sixty-five (65) inches this season. That is far and above what is normal for us. Our usual total is maybe twenty, if we're lucky. Worse is that we've had the cold temperatures to keep what snow is on the ground from melting.

Is it all bad? No, of course not. The winter weather compelled us to finally break down and get a generator, which we will need, sooner or later. It also brought us a snowblower, albeit a used one. Being previously owned hardly matters because it runs good, and did the job during the last two major snows. Without it, we'd still be snowed in.

Does all this lead you to believe I've been writing? Yes! I have been writing. This is a good thing. I just wish I had more time to practice my craft, but real life intrudes. With my honey able to do less and less, more and more falls to me. Like going out in the cold and wind and using the snowblower. Sitting at my desk in my cozy, warm office would have been a lot more fun. I probably would not have come down with a cold, either. But I digress.

Being otherwise occupied, it's been a little while since I checked on my website. Today was the day I set aside to check on it, the mailing list, the blog, etc. So, here's my question. How can a website suddenly lose content? All it does is sit there on a webhosting server and look pretty.

Seriously. I clicked through the pages and found text missing. I opened my local software and the text was there. This makes me suspicious. I re-published the site, and all looks well, but that doesn't explain how it could happen. I intend to ask around and see if anyone else has had that problem, or if they've all dumped their paid webhosting in favor of free blogs. That is a thought worthy of consideration.

Now for a pat on the back - for me! Late last year I decided I needed to concentrate on my health. I'm not a sprout anymore, but a mature flower. Blessed with good health, I've not had a serious illness in my life - and I want to keep it that way.

To that end, I've made a conscious effort to eat better and exercise more. I'm delighted to report I've shed five percent of my total body weight. The "experts" say that's enough to stave off that metabolic disorder that leads to so many nasty issues. I'll keep going, but my program is geared toward better diet, not less food. Getting to that ten-percent mark won't happen until the weather warms up and I can get out and walk and ride my bike.

That's okay. I can't afford to constantly buy smaller clothes. Anyway, the program is working, and I'm happy with the progress I've made. And yes, I've enjoyed buying a few new (smaller) pieces of clothing.

So that's my update. Now, if I can just come up with a title, I'll get that story I just polished off.. or up...submitted.