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.)
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…
Anyway, in reading through my writing journal yesterday, this entry caught my eye, and I decided to share a portion of it.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s three short stories from my life this past week…
On the gardening front…
I texted my neighbor Mark on Friday : “Next time you are hauling manure, would you mind dropping off one or two bucket loads? … whatever $25 would buy.”
(I’m planning ahead for next seasons garden and fall is the perfect time to apply manure.)
He wrote back, “OK Yea, how about $0?”
I am still savoring Mark’s generosity.
On the honeybee front…
My bee mentor has been managing bees for about 40 years. His name is Curt. When I checked on our two hives earlier in the week, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. It looked like capped brood (that’s up and coming new honey bees) above the queen excluder and a dark uncapped substance lower in the bowels of the hive. I was concerned I may have some nasty disease getting a foothold in the hive. The excluder is a screen that (in theory) prevents the queen from going where you don’t want her to go. Normally, queens are slightly bigger than her smaller worker bees and she can’t squeeze through, although once in a while, it happens. There is just so much I can learn via the internet or a phone call. What I really needed was someone who knew what they were looking at to make a house call. Texted Curt, Next day we set up a time for him to stop. He manages a 120 hives of his own, and I didn’t feel right about having him stop without compensating him something, so I addressed it right up front. All he asked for was a few yellow apples when I start picking.
I was SO appreciative of his generosity of time. I’ve mentioned it before but Curt is the perfect mentor. He doesn’t come across like a know it all. He asks great questions and doesn’t feel like he’s in a rush when he’s here.
And finally on the construction job front.
I’ve been framing walls on a commercial project the past month. Couple of weeks ago, the electricians were “trying” to pull their main wires through some buried conduit. There were two of them (Brian and Joe), and Joe was having a heck of a time. Joe didn’t ask, but I stopped what I was doing and grabbed onto the pulley rope with him. Couple of big tugs later and the first wire was through. He really appreciated it. He told me that final joint at the end is always a bugger. He had one more wire to pull, and It turned out to be even tougher. The two of us, side by, side, both covered with sweat, pulling with everything we had. I’m not an electrician, and it wasn’t my responsibility but he needed a hand. I didn’t do it for any other reason than that is how I was raised.
Met Fred (the owner) of the electrical company later in the week. Introduced myself and told him how much I enjoyed working with his guys. (There have been other random interactions throughout the week. besides me helping pull wire.) On Thursday I asked Brian if need be, could I borrow one of their scissor lifts to install a handful of hangers? (Ours was going back to the rental store the first of next week.) Absolutely he said. He showed me where they hide the key in case their crew were not around.
On Friday Brian told me they had their weekly shop meeting and was told not to hide the key on the lift. Fred the owner told Brian to “give Doug the combination to the job trailer, s where I could find the key for the lift.”
I was humbled by their trust.
I had a great encounter @ the Lowes customer service desk this week as well. This post is getting long enough, so I’ll save that story for another time. How about you? Any good encounters lately that left you encouraged? I would love to hear about it, and I love details 🙂 DM
Last winter, my sister Karen and I spent a morning going through boxes of old family photos after we moved our parents into town. My box of pictures and keepsakes has been sitting here next to my desk for the past month. Decided last night to start sorting. Came across a couple of pieces of paper in my dad’s handwriting. It was a story he’d recopied on the topic of parenting. (I’ll post that at the end).
Things were very tight the whole time our kids were growing up. Sometime after we started home schooling, we decided to start a commercial cleaning business on the side with the older ones helping out.
I remember having conflicting feelings, a part of me thought it was brilliant, and a teeny tiny part of me felt like a failure. Asking our kids to help out by empty trash cans, cleaning toilets, vacuuming, etc. so they would have money to buy their clothes, just seemed a little______?
Now that our youngest is 30, (and owns a commercial cleaning business of his own), and I am 30 years removed from that season of our lives, I can see the fruit of those parenting choices in our children’s lives. I have a completely different take on all of those memories. All four of our kids have turned into hard working, caring, loving adults, and it’s not because we were so brilliant and knew what we were doing.
I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants
Life lesson: Asking our kids to work/ not just dabble, but get in there and hustle, did not hurt them. Those were their formative years, and being able to work hard as an adult now is something that sets them apart.
I ought to know. As an employer, i t gets harder and harder to find people who know how to work.
Here is that story I came across:
Thoughts on Work, family, sacrifice from my dad’s perspective
A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company. HE passed the initial interview and was going to meet the Director for the final interview. The director saw his resume , it was excellent, and he asked, “Have you received a scholarship for school?”
The boy replied, ‘No.”
“It was your father who paid for your studies?”
“Yes” he replied.
“Where does your father work?”
“My father is a blacksmith.”
The director asked the young man to show him his hands. The young man showed him a pair of hands soft and perfect.
“Have you ever helped your parents at their job?”
“Never. My parents always wanted me to study and read more books’, besides he can do the job better than me. “
The director said,” I have got a request. When you go home today, go and wash the hands of your father and then come see me tomorrow morning.”
The young man felt his chance to get the job wasn’t high. When he returned to his house, he asked his father if he would allow him to wash his hands. His father felt strange, happy, but with mixed feelings and showed his hands to his son. The young man washed his hands, little by little. It was the first time that he noticed his father’s hands were wrinkled and they had many scars. Some bruises were so painful, that his skin shuddered when he touched them. This was the first time that the young man recognized what it meant for this pair of hands to work every day to be able to pay for his study. The bruises on the hands were the price that he paid for his education, his school activities, and his future. After cleaning his father’s hands the young man stood in silence and began to tidy up and clean the workshop. That night, father and son talked for a long time. The next morning, the young man went to the office of the director.
The director noticed the tears in the eyes of the young man when he asked him. “Can you tell me what you did and what you learned yesterday at your house?”
The boy replied,” I washed my fathers hands and when I finished I stayed and cleaned his workshop. Now I know what it is to appreciate and recognize that without my parents, I would not be who I am today. By helping my father I now realize how difficult and hard it is to do something on my own. I have come to appreciate the importance and the value of helping the family.”
The director said, “This is what I look for in my people. I want to hire someone who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the hardship of others to do things, and a person who does not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.”
A child that has been coddled, protected and usually given what he wants, develops a mentality of “I have the right.” And will always put himself first.
If we are this type of protective parent, are we really showing love or are we destroying our children? You can give your child a big house, good food, computer classes, a big screen TV. But when you’re washing the floor or painting a wall, please have him experience that too.
After eating, have them wash the dishes with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you have no money to hire someone to do this, it’s because you want to love them the right way….
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?
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….
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
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.
Ordering Your Private World thoughts.
Early morning thoughts when I hear crows talking to each other in the distance.
Henry David Thoreau thoughts.
Louisa May Alcott thoughts.
Older parent thoughts.
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.”
Jason, his son Josh and I were building a deck today. As we were having coffee, Jason’s phone rang. I could hear him talking to someone about his birthday. which is this week.
“How old will you be?” I asked him when he got off the phone.
Out of the blue, Josh looks at me and asked “How old are you”?
“No way, he said. I thought you were about fifty.”
Ah, the simple things in life….
There are so many things that can factor into aging well, especially the mental component.
Right at the top of my list is a sense of humor.
About 13 years ago, I cut off the tip of my ring finger with a skill saw. As a large African American lady was wheeling me down the hallway to the operating room, we got to talking.
She asked me what had happened?.
“Oh, I cut the tip of my finger off with a saw, “I said with a smirk.
“Oh! Don’t tell me that!” she said.
(I can still hear her southern drawl in my head).
“Yep, one of the guys found it and brought it to the hospital, just in case they can sew it back on.”
“Don’t tell me that!” she said again.
“Yep, and it’s here in this bowl” (I had a metal bowl on my lap with that little chunk of my finger).
“Don’t tell me that!”
A sense of humor can go along way in a medical situation.
Read the following this week and posted it on facebook:
“A well developed sense of humor reveals a well-balanced personality….the ability to get a laugh out of everyday situations is a safety valve. It rids us of tensions and worries that could otherwise damage your health….you think I’m exaggerating the benefits?
Maybe you’ve forgotten this proverb: “A joyful heart is good medicine…”
And finally…work keeps coming in. (Which is why I have not been doing as much writing).
The bee split was a success.
Had our first new potatoes this weekend from the garden.
Decided to re-fire up our Bed and Breakfast for a little extra income. Just about ready to reopen the doors.
95% of the people we’ve had stay, were not looking for the B and B experience as much as just a place to stay.
Well, about time to call it a day.
Thanks for stopping by. DM