Got this notification from WordPress today:
Got this notification from WordPress today:
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:
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
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.
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.”
I published my first blog post in 2007.
Since then, I’ve had the privilege to meet several of you in person… Kristina, Grace, Brittany, Cheryl, Val, Lisa Maris, Michelle, and I’m a thinking I am missing someone :-). I’ve connected with a few more of you via facebook something I’ve never taken that for granted either.
On the flip side, I’ve watched people I loved to interact with suddenly drop off the face of the earth without nary a whisper…Doctor Victo, Linda, Joy, Bill, Michael, to mention just a few…their blogs either just went silent or were deleted without any notice. Every time, it felt like a friend had just skipped town without explanation.
In my last post, , I mentioned in passing the “writing muse” seems like it is starting to dry up. When I first started blogging back in 2007, my mind was overflowing with topics and issues I felt driven to write about, but now, 12 years later, I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say.
I actually still have 5 active blogs….this one, my farm blog, a history research project blog, a 4th one that is unapologetic-ally deeply spiritual, and an earlier version of this one, currently set to private. Each with a specific purpose. this blog (heart to heart) is where I tend to process life. Last count there were between 600 and 700 blog posts between all of the blogs…Many of the posts “clunkers” I’d be the first to admit. 🙂 A few I may revisit and eventually assemble into another book…I’m still not sure.
So I’m not sure what is coming next, if anything…When Kristina was here last week, we talked briefly about this, and maybe I would be interested in using “prompts” to stimulate my writing. That doesn’t really appeal to me, I do have plenty to keep me entertained now that the new growing season has arrived.
What would help me out more than anything, would be for those of you that are regular readers (even if you don’t leave comments all that often) is to answer this question- Why do you subscribe to this blog? Are there certain topics that resonate with you more than others? Is there something I’ve touched on in the past, you’d love for me to write about more fully? Or are you good with things just as they are? (Even that would help me get some direction.)
Give it some thought and let me know. Any feedback @ this point would be helpful.
Me in the orchard….
Few more weeks and this is what it will look like.
It has been a very productive winter for me as I’ve had the time to work on family history. It’s an interest I’ve had for years that comes and goes. I’ve had individual folders with old family pictures, notes from conversations from people now passed, two different family trees books I am descended from…a lot of information that begs to be organized. Last Fall, I happened to run into Diane at a local picnic for a tour group in the area from Ostfriesland. (Part of northern Germany.) By the end of our conversation, Diane had offered to help me work on our family tree. She had the time, the know how and I jumped at her offer.
She reached out to me this past January and asked if I was ready to get started. I gave her some names and she started setting up a family tree. I didn’t hear anything for several weeks, and discovered in the meantime that since my wife had taken a DNA test there was a free ancestry account already in existence in our name. So while I was waiting for Diane’s results, I started doing some work on my own…adding pictures, uploaded stories, using the search tools in the local newspaper archives. It has been a great way to break up some of the time these past few months.
Night before last Diane wrote me a note. I’d given her a link to the family tree I’ve been working on, this is a portion of what she said:
“I can tell you that your instincts, Doug as a genealogist and family history keeper are excellent.”
That is the 2nd time someone as given me unsolicited affirmation about that area of my life. (lover of history.)
The first time was in 2009. I’d shared a link to a history blog I was working on with one of my favorite authors. Andrea Seu Peterson.
She wrote me back and said : “You may want to call yourself a contractor, but I think you’re a historian. “
I hesitate to share those two affirmations and yet, I believe there is a place in our lives for personal affirmation. God knows there is enough negativity most of us battle with that goes on in our private thought life. So, when a few words of genuine affirmation makes it into my life, I celebrate. :-).
So there you go.
I am a voracious reader, especially when I get on a topic that interests me. Heck, I grew up in a home where World Encyclopedias were on a bookshelf in our bathroom.
So for me, to receive two unsolicited affirmations affirming my work in the area of history, does as much for me as getting a piece of paper telling me I have a Masters degree.
I’d never seen any of the following pictures before…(except the one of grandma on the boat. I’ve share that one before.)
Picture of my grandmother (little girl on the left) She was 13 years old.
My grandma, front row second from left. Getting together with her friends right before emigrating to America. March 1929. She was 23.
Grandma on ship March 1929 coming to America
1949 Picture from my grandmother on her first visit back to Germany since she immigrated.
(She is in the center)
Twenty years had passed…She’d gotten married to an Iowa farm boy. She’ had three children. Her father had passed away while she was gone. She’d endured the Great Depression in America, experienced WW 2 as a German living in America. I think of the emotions she must have been feeling at that moment.
I miss her.
I need to get moving.
Thanks for tagging along.
Take care. DM