Went to a new writers group last night

Wasn’t sure what to expect.

Got a Facebook message a couple of weeks ago, asking if I would be interested in a  writers group getting started at our library.  Only three other people expressed an interest in coming, so I thought maybe I had the wrong room  when I walked through the door and saw  9 people.

They ranged in age from 18 to late 70’s,  4 men and 7 women.

Description of the group was: ” a low pressure, open group for people with an interest in creative-self expression…provide a supportive forum of like minded people to provide encouragement and helpful feedback…whatever level of proficiency. age or level of interest, you are welcome to come and either share your piece (of writing) or listen to what people are working on….such as narrative therapy, prose, poetry, short story, blogging, family history/ memoirs, journaling, comedy, Obituaries, etc.”

When it came time to share writing samples….all I can say is WOW.  

It touched me deeply.

One girl, I put her at about 18,  had written something on grief. She’d lost her mom when she was 16, and wrote an essay on what not to say to someone who’s dealing with loss.

Another person had written about his recent experience dealing with their autistic daughter having a melt down in public.

It was raw.

I did share a portion of a blog post I’d written back in 2014 on why you don’t want to move to Iowa.  🙂

At the time, Hillary Clinton had come to town  for the Democratic primaries… Our local newpaper editor was on a bus with a bunch of reporters from the east coast.  She heard quite a bit of mocking derision about our community, and  the Midwest in general.  That stirred the following in me:

Why You Don’t Want to come to Iowa 

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I’m already looking forward to the next meeting.

I guess if I came away with anything it was this….

I need to decide if I have any long term writing goals. 🙂

Well, better get moving.  Starting a new duplex this morning and I need to get some breakfast.   Take care. DM

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Pompous Experts

I keep a writing journal.

It is not for public consumption.  It is an unedited mix.  Sometime diary, catch all for articles that capture my attention,  blog posts,  personal correspondence, recipe’s, etc.  (It is several hundred thousand words long at this point.)

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I’m currently reading through Louisa May Alcott’s personal journal.  It’s one of the ways I unwind at the end of the day. I usually only read a couple of pages at a time, but for some mysterious reason, her journals have a way of grounding me…

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Anyway, in reading through my writing journal yesterday, this entry caught my eye, and I decided to share a portion of it.

5/11/2013

Pompous writing experts

…I am liking keeping a writing journal.

It taps into a different “voice” than  when I write blog posts.  There is definitely this creative pulse I feel inside that wants to escape.  I would love to hone my writing skills and yet @ the same time am not interested in getting feedback from people like S. H. or especially  M. K. who ripped a rough draft of my first book I shared with him several years ago.  

Those two well meaning “writers” were brutal and deeply wounded my spirit, causing me to second guess anything I would write….

Now I get it…writing well is definitely a craft and like teaching,  there are some fundamental principles a person wants to master to be  effective..  The trick is who is giving the feedback and in what spirit.

       I want to learn how to write  clean, crisp, honest, work.  I really do, and I know I have the humility to learn…I’ve proved it in other areas of my life.  Just give me a teacher filled with Grace – like Brenda Uhland.  I would LOVE to have sat under her mentoring.  In the mean time…I will continue to  learn.  No more pompous writing experts for me. 

None.

Nada. 

I would rather go to my grave with just this journal I’ve written for my own personal pleasure than listen to fools tell me what I’ve done wrong….

    At this stage of my life, I have no interest in telling someone else how to live their lives- whether how they raise their kids, grow a garden, tend honey bees,  or whatever-  I aspire to live quietly, to work with my hands, be dependent on no one…. Period.

Ruth Stout is my role model for mentoring others… She had it (deep mulch gardening) figured out.   She did not want to be put on some pedestal.  She just did her own thing and then reported the results, and let people make their own conclusions.

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One more thought.  While this entry is mostly about being mentored in writing, it can really apply to any area of life.  I’ve seen it played out with gardening, raising honey bees, guns, carpentry, small engine repair, computers, parenting, marriage relationships, money management, fermentation,  etc. etc.

Good mentors are hard to find.

If you have one, I’d encourage you to  let them know how much you appreciate them.

Just a thought.

Take care.

DM

 

One of many (thoughts)

I mentioned an hour ago, my mind is a tangled up mass of  thoughts.  There’s a song in my heart so the tangled up knot is not stress related. (For which I’m thankful) 🙂

Thirty minutes later, I was out in the orchard picking up branches.  My mind went to a comment I’d left on a Dave Ramsey facebook group this morning.  (Dave Ramsey in case you’ve never heard of him is a money management, get out of debt author and speaker)

Someone on the group asked the question:

 Where would you love to retire?

Why?

Out of the 82 people who answered, only one person mentioned they loved where they currently lived, wouldn’t mind being able to go somewhere warm in the winter, but 81 of them  said something other than where they were.

While I rarely leave comments on an open forum (except with those of you I know via blogging, I decided to say something….

“Two thoughts.

Love what I’m doing, (I’m a carpenter) as my dad was fond of saying “retirement” is not a word in my vocabulary, so plan do keep doing some variation of that as long as I’m physically able.

Secondly. Love where we live. Plan to stay right where I’m at, as long as I have any say in the matter.

Years ago, when my life was spinning out of control with too many commitments,  small children, work, financial stress..you know, the normal every day, stuff all of us deal with, I remember wishing things were different.  I remember saying to someone, “Peace and contentment are entirely under rated.” 

What I wouldn’t give for a more peace filled life.

Here’s a picture I’ve shared before from that season in my life… I taped it to the wall to remind me business does not automatically equal progress:

When I read later about  Henry David Thoreau  tromping off to the woods to live on Walden’s pond, I remember thinking to myself,  why did he only stay there the better part of two years?  Why not stay there long term?  I made up my mind at that point, to do just that…create my own version of Walden.  I hate water, so I didn’t need a pond 🙂  (I can’t swim, don’t have the patience to fish, plus with standing water you have to deal with mosquitoes).

And so, since  1995 I have been slowly moving in the direction of a life that I don’t need to take a vacation from. Here’s what it looked like in 1995:

…an old run down acreage with a set of 100-year-old farm buildings. Curb appeal it did not have. The house and out buildings hadn’t been painted in 50 years. Nothing appealing except that it was 4 miles from town, and the foundation on the house was still solid.

I  have been  slowly  carving out my own version of Walden here ever since….Laying hens, apple trees, honey bees, lots of flowers,  garden beds, a dog, no TV, lots of books to read.

My vision of Walden  would probably looks different from yours.

But I would suspect it would be built on the same foundation stone.

The stone of living life intentionally.

Talk to me about living life intentionally. What does that mean to you?

It is never to late to start.

Take care. DM

 

Thoughts

My brain is a tangled up knot of thoughts this morning and has been for several weeks.  Ever cut open a golf ball?  A tight mass of rubber bands.  Yep, that’s my brain.

Job related thoughts.

Honey extracting thoughts.

Relationships thoughts.

Ordering Your Private World  thoughts.

Early morning thoughts when I hear  crows talking to each other in the distance.

Photography thoughts.

Fermentation thoughts.

Gardening thoughts.

Henry David Thoreau thoughts.

Louisa May Alcott thoughts.

Older parent thoughts.

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Think I’ll just post a quote call it good.

 

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”

― Henry David Thoreau

 

The Wedding Dance

One of our nephews got married this past weekend.

At the reception, the DJ announced a dance for “All the married couples.”  And then he said,  “You know how this works…keep dancing until your year is called, so we can find out who here has been married the longest…”Wife looks and me and says, “Let’s  do it!”  I’d already been out on the floor dancing with one of our granddaughters so I was OK with the idea.  I’m going to guess there were about 20 couples on the floor.

“5 years or less, please leave the floor…”  “Dang,” said a young couple off to my right.

“15 years or less…please leave the floor..”

“25 years or less…

35 years or less...(the parents of the bride and groom left at this point.)

40 years…. (It was at this point we made a bee line to the edge of the floor.)

I could hear the DJ saying something about that last couple, turned out it was us. We were that last couple.  Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, thought it was one of my brother-in-laws, for a second, then realized it was the DJ.

“Any words of advice?”

My mind went  blank.  Completely  blank.   And then, a thought began to take shape, but I wasn’t sure I should say it.

What the heck, he asked me again so I blurted it out: ,“It takes a lot of work” (not the most romantic words, but he’d asked, and as far as I was concerned, it was the truth. 🙂

He asked the question a third time? ” What words of advice would you give a younger couple after being married for 40 years?” 

Fortunately, my wife had her wits about her and she said,  “Well, coffee in bed…He brings me coffee in bed, and has done so for years..” (I could hear a collective awe) 🙂

“It’s the little things that matter.  Kindness..”

After we sat down and the microphone was no longer in my face, my wife added…“I wish I would have said a sense of humor…a sense of humor in marriage goes a long ways!”

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The year we marked our 25th anniversary,  I did  write down some thoughts on marriage.  They are as true today as 15 years go and if you’ve never read my list,  here is what I wrote:

#1. A marriage relationship is a living thing, very much like a plant.  There are things you can do to enhance it, make it flourish, and there are things you can do in terms of neglect.  It can go without water and sunlight for a spell, but make no mistake…the principle of sowing and reaping is just as relevant in marriage as in any area of life.

#2.  A “healthy” marriage takes work.  You don’t feel the “warm fuzzies” for each other all the time.  Don’t panic…that is normal. Wife and I like to spend time together, we enjoy each other’s company.  But, as Dr. Dobson puts it, “Emotions come and go.  Do the deeds and the feelings will follow.”

  Make the phone calls from work just to say, “Hi. I was thinking about you.” Bring her coffee in bed.  Get out one-on-one, just the two of you , even if it’s just for a cup of coffee. Help out around the home with the dirty dishes, dirty, diapers, and here is a big one…pick up after yourself!

#3, Take time to listen and stay “current” with each other.  Don’t pour all your energy into your job and have nothing left over for your family.  Don’t become “married singles.” (two people living in the same home who no longer have anything in common.)  If your job does take all of your energy, all of the time, then Buddy, you need to find a different job.  There is nothing more tragic in life than a man who makes it to the top of the company ladder and loses his family in the process.

#4. Use these words often (You will need them):

“I’m sorry.”

“I was wrong.”

“Please forgive me.”

“You are right.”

#5. Dance…have fun…keep doing the silly things you did when you were just dating or courting.

#6. When (not if) you find yourself having an unresolved conflict in some area (money, sex, parenting, work, church, etc.) work at it until you find an answer! (God has used everything from books to other couples, to paid counselors, to help keep our boat afloat over the years.)

#7 Get out (or stay out) of debt.  There are a lot of spin-off ramifications that come with financial pressure.    Just a side note on this one-  for the most part, we have been a one income family, and since I have chosen to make a living with my hands (I am in construction)  we have made financial choices including…renting instead of owning the first 15 years of our marriage,  driven an older dependable car, shopped @ garage sales, discount grocery stores, etc.

These are choices we all have to make, but as children enter the picture, Dad needs to have some time and energy left over at the end of the day or be willing to “pay the piper” later in life. (Remember the song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”???)

#8. Give each other some space and freedom.  Trust and respect are foundational issues.

#9. Pray and share with each other spiritually.

#10 Be a forgiving person.  Let’s face it, you are not perfect, your mate is not perfect, “stuff” happens.  Cut each other some slack….practice grace….be the first to initiate reconciliation.

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If you have any thoughts you would like to add to this list, absolutely feel free to do so.

I feel a nap coming on. 🙂 It’s raining here today.  I took off work early in order to take a couple of our chickens to do a program for group of Kindergardeners before I sat down here at the computer.

What a hoot.

Take care.  DM

 

Dancing with the granddaughters.

 

Did not see this coming

Did not see this coming.

Once a year, our 4 children agreed a couple of years ago, as it is hard to get everybody together at the same time, it would be great just to set aside a couple of days each year where we knew everyone would be able to be back.  (2 of our 4 kids  live out-of-state).

So everyone was back in town this week to celebrate their mama’s birthday.  5:15 we had planned to get together for a cookout @ one of the daughters homes.

Walked into the garage and I was confused.  Saw my brother, my mom and dad, heck, all of my siblings were there and their spouses….I thought..ah, neat..they’d been invited to help celebrate my wife’s birthday with us….but then  a cake caught my eye.  A Princess Bride themed cake… It was a good 45  to 60 seconds before I realized this was a surprise anniversary celebration, and I was one of the guests of honor.

I have never had a real surprise party in my life…never.

Two days later I am still in shock.

If it would have been possible,   I would love to have had each of you that read this blog, to have been invited.  I mean that.

The Princess Bride is one of those goofy movie’s from the 80’s that has taken on a life of it’s own in the fabric of our family’s life.

 

Princess Bride themed cake

Group photo