Tag Archives: womenwritersover50

Day 2 of My Writer’s Retreat

Annice

Annice

Day two of my writer’s retreat.  Well, that’s what I’m calling it even though it’s not exactly what I planned.  I was supposed to go to Bowers House, a Writers Retreat and Literary Center in Georgia, but given that my husband is still recovering from major back surgery, I felt uncomfortable being so far away – just in case.  So, feeling deprived and sorry for myself, I decided to take the week off anyway and just write at home.

It’s not that I can’t write at home, I do it all the time but I also do the laundry, organize drawers, clean the closets, clip my dog’s nails – you get the drift.  Did I say I also check my kitchen cupboards to see if all my exotic spices are still in the house just in case I get inspired to make an amazing Indian dish?

While I was gearing up for my make do “retreat,” my writing mentor and dear friend, Peggy, was going out of town to visit her children the exact week I had to cancel Bowers House.  I know Peggy’s place because my writer’s group meets there every other Tuesday.  It’s only ten minutes from my house but it feels like miles and miles away.  It’s quiet, serene, with cream colored furniture, and best of all there is Gracie,  her pure white cat who thinks she’s

Gracie

Gracie

a dog.  Wouldn’t Gracie need someone to take care of her?  Yes she would.  What an amazing swap. I get to write at Peggy’s place all day and leave when I’m ready.  So far, I’ve been going around 10:00 and returning around 7:00.  Gracie is happy and I’m ecstatic.  In two days, I’ve revised 12 chapters, and hopefully, I can finish all 25 of them by the end of the week.

In addition, I have given up all household chores  including cooking so we’re either eating out or bringing in, and the only thing I do in the morning before I leave is walk Terra.

Oh yeah, look at this little jewel I see in the morning.  A dove has decided to build a nest in a planter near Peggy’s front door.  I’ve watched it grow in just two days.  What a perfect metaphor for my writer’s retreat.

Creating a Nest

Creating a Nest

The Thrill of a Second Chance

Martha Carr, author

Martha Carr, author

My fifties started with a bang.  I jumped out of a plane, following behind the person I was interviewing for a book.  As soon as I was clear of the plane I felt myself relax and one clear thought came to me, “You’ve done it now, you might as well relax.”  If I was going to hit the ground, I might as well enjoy this last minute.

I landed successfully and stood up with another clear thought: Stop doing anything that isn’t working.  There was a long list.  My entire way of thinking up to that point was to try and make sure everyone else liked me, no matter what the consequences.

By the time I turned fifty, I was more of a chameleon than a human being and I had no idea what I liked to do.

As a writer, I was all over the map.  Fortunately, it turned out I had some talent that over time became stronger.  But as soon as I was headed down one path, someone would point out how I could be getting ahead faster if only I changed direction.  Doubt would set in, and I’d let go of the plan that I had and set out again.  Frustration and resentment built as I blamed others for why I wasn’t getting ahead in my life.

However, just a few months after that skydiving trip I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given one year to live.  One month later, an unrelated cancer was found that took a good part of the skin on the lower part of my face.  Suddenly, all of the outward need to please others fell away and I was able to give myself permission to say what I was really thinking, and stick with it.

The cancer didn’t spread any further, something the doctors only have ideas about but were never able to explain.  No matter, the entire episode, which included having to learn how to walk again, transformed my way of thinking and then my life.

I started out in life being told that I was part of American royalty. I am the great-great-great-great-niece of Thomas Jefferson, named for his sister, Martha Randolph Carr and with that came a certain responsibility.

I interpreted that as a responsibility to look a certain way but had no idea what would be the most acceptable or virtuous front.  Over the years it became whoever I admired or at least saw as successful and I’d change to match their vision of me, as I saw it.  I wasn’t running my own race as much as playing a part in a lot of other people’s lives whether they even knew it or not.

2ndchanceGetting a second chance at being alive changed that and as usual, it’s reflected in my writing.  I finally started writing a thriller series, The Wallis Jones Series that focuses on a woman a lot like myself who’s doing a pretty good job of building a life until she finds out that she’s part of a legacy she can’t just leave behind.

In The Keeper, the second in the series, Wallis finds out just how deep those family ties go and realizes running away won’t work anymore.  There are a lot of people who have an idea of the right thing to do but Wallis has to find out for herself her own definitions.  It’s going to take faith in herself and those around her like her husband, Norman and her tween son, Ned to find peace again in the middle of a dangerous situation.The Keeper front cover

The legacy of finding out that our roots are legendary is not to try and appear as if everything is alright.  It turns out that my fifties gave me the gift of learning how to live up to the past by creating my own future, even if it doesn’t look a thing like anyone expected, including me.

Gift Giving, Thank-you’s, and all the Rest

Annice

Annice

I’ve been thinking a lot about gift giving lately.  Maybe it’s because there’s a lot of it in June.  Birthdays, graduations, baby showers, Father’s day, new jobs, retirement, and just a lot to celebrate.  Coupled with all those celebrations and gifts, I have noticed the lack of thank-you’s over the years and that makes me feel sad.  I know I shouldn’t expect anything in return when I give a gift, and believe me, that’s not why I give, but what about a simple no frills thank you letting me know the gift was in fact received?   I find it embarrassing to call to find out if my gift ever arrived.  And, if it was a check or gift card, why do I have to log into my bank account to verify if my gift was debited, leaving me with the feeling of having just paid my utility bills?  Don’t get me wrong, I have lowered my expectations – I certainly don’t expect a hand-written note.  Heaven’s no!  They are somewhat inconvenient to write and then there’s the stamp and the post office.  But, how about a voice mail or even a 3 letter text that says thx?

Giving Gifts

Thank-you starts with parents teaching little ones what a gift is, and that a gift is not a requirement.  It is not an obligation to give either, and one is not naturally entitled to receive a gift.  This is an important lesson in giving and receiving, not to mention gratitude. I will admit that Baby Boomers (and generations before us) learned to write thank you notes at a very early age – in fact, as soon as we learned to write.  But since kids don’t actually learn to write anymore, I’m very willing to accept a digital note.   Something!  Anything!

I am not totally alone in my thoughts.  I have conducted a very informal survey and talked to women over 50 who have told me if they don’t receive a thank you (in any format) – they simply stop sending that person a gift.  One friend had a great solution for the non-thanker.  The next time she is “expected to give a gift,” she makes a donation to her favorite charity in that person’s name.  What a concept. kidtocamp

Here is what Cicero has to say: 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

Let me know your thoughts – am I unrealistic?????

Manicures & Spring Rolls

Annice

Annice

Recently, I decided to get a manicure.  It’s not something I do very often but I needed a fast and cheap escape while waiting for my husband at Verizon.  He either lost his cell phone or had it stolen in Miami where he went to have back surgery in April.  Buying a new phone should be simple, right?  But, nothing at Verizon is simple.  Since Len was not driving yet, I had to take him there but the thought of sitting in Verizon and dealing with his problems just felt too overwhelming.  I’ve got my phone and it works just fine – thank you.

Off I went to Hollywood Nails & Spa at River Ridge shopping center.  I had never been there before and was pleased to see how clean and shiny it was.   As soon as I sat down, my manicurist gave me a bottle of water. A few minutes later she came back with two piping hot spring rolls on a little white paper plate and placed them on the table between us.  I’m thinking it’s her breakfast, after all it’s only 9:30.  The aroma is killing me but I pretend the spring rolls aren’t there.  The manicurist (promise to get her name next time) begins to clean and prepare her tools .  ”Eat,” she finally says.  I look around to see if anyone else is eating spring rolls but no one is sitting close enough for me to know for sure.  Delicious.

spring rolls

I tell her how much I love her spring rolls and ask her where she is from.  Viet Nam.  I love Viet Namese food and tell her I wish Asheville had a Viet Namese restaurant – or at least a good one.

I’m devouring the second spring roll when the manicurist removes the empty paper plate and replaces it with hot soapy water. “Soak,” she says.  Once my nails are polished and dried, the manicurist gently massages my hands and arms.  Thinking this is it, I’m ready to get up and pay, but the manicurist says she will be right back.  When she returns, she’s got two white steaming towels to wrap my hands in.  So, so nice.  Finally, I get up to leave and I notice several customers chomping on spring rolls.  I asked the other customer at the cash register if everyone here gets spring rolls.  Affirmative.  OMG, this business owner knows a little something about customer service!  Maybe she could teach a class at Verizon.  

hot towels

One more thing, the price was five dollars cheaper than my last manicure.  Guess who got a five dollar tip?

manicure

After the manicure!

 

A Retiring Mind: Part IV: Amoke’s at it Again

Amoke Kubat

Amoke Kubat

My retiring mind is on the mends.  It’s a fighter!  I’m on the other side of a health crisis. Physical conditions finally identified, and I have clear directives for maintaining my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

My days begin in deep gratitude.  I wake up.  Others don’t.  I’m not in pain.  I herd bottles of pills around, vitamins and minerals and one for blood pressure, until I get them all down, generally needing 2-3 cups of tea to do so.

tea time

I make it my job to laugh at least 3 times daily.  The shaking, hurting belly laughter, you know, that breaks out from between your legs, whereas you just might pee yourself, if not sling snot, piggy snort or cry.  Sometimes I laugh at myself.

I’m at that age where you have to have TESTS and PROCEDURES that nobody really wants to talk about: example, the colonoscopy.  At my appointment, I arrived feeling confident about the necessity for this procedure and what to expect.  I balked upon entering a very crowded waiting room.  My ticket was number 26.  I took a seat and summoned my big girl attitude.

My name was called.  I was ushered to a room, guided through changing into a gown and positioning myself on a table.  I would watch the exploration of my guts on a big screen.  I thought the whole thing to be cool, like my own Magic Science Bus adventure.

I greeted and asked the doctor, “Have you really seen 25 assholes today”?  She blanched but continued her preparations.  Her nurse struggled to keep a straight face.  My excitement and curiosity blinded social decorum, “What kind of doctor are you?  What did you have to study”?  I continued my own bedside banter.  The doctor muttered something about gastrointestinal something or other.  She was quick, thorough and seemed surprised that she didn’t discover nothing from rooter to tooter.

Fast forward.  Last week, I began a more aggressive response to the arthritis along my spine’s lumbar region.  A young physician and two assistants injected epidurals into my lower back to shrink bulging herniated disks and relieve pain, spasms and numbness in both legs and feet.  I was positioned face down on a table.  My pants were rolled and tucked to reveal the small of my back and a behind that gives “mooning” a whole new concept.  Think, “A Total Eclipse of the Heart” (as in cardiac arrest) or “Bad Moon Rising”. They informed me about possible discomfort as the series of injections begin.

As the team worked, they chatted about a ten dollar taxable bonus check gained for their personal healthy health practices.  What could you buy with less than ten dollars, they lamented.  The physician, young and slim said, “SUBWAY”!  She loved SUBWAY!  They discussed in details the variety of breads and endless combinations of meats, cheeses and veggies.  Mind you, I was being stabbed in my behind. They asked if I liked SUBWAY.  I told them about how I loved a very carefully constructed BLT Footlong on wheat, with spinach instead of lettuce.

We were all done in about 20 minutes.  I was sat up, stood on my feet and given after-care instructions.  Did I need a wheelchair?  I bristled.  I was independent and capable.  I stepped, and my right hip swung like a wagon turning a treacherous corner.  Tried again, and my step produced a swagger and a slow dragging foot.  I walked like a pimp! They assured me this would pass.  I told them that I really hoped they wouldn’t think of my butt every time they went to SUBWAY.  We laughed. I t wasn’t the socially polite and awkward giggling but deep women’s laughter.  I accepted the wheelchair.

Despite trekking along a path I never imagined to take, I remain really optimistic.  I take my vitamin L (for laughter) as often as I like, it’s addictive!  It’s real medicine.

She knows it, too.

Amoke Kubat

I’m a writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.