Saturday, November 24, 2007

Is it my imagination....

or does the Christmas frenzy start earlier and earlier each year? It is still November and my dear husband has already been to an office Christmas party!

I've never been much of a 'Christmas' person. There are just too many expectations at this time of year and most of these things I'm not good at. If I had my way, I'd 'unplug the Christmas machine' and create simple, family-centered traditions that wouldn't include shopping malls or racing from one event to another. However, when it comes to Christmas, I don't have my way.


A couple of years ago I came across a list of Seasonal Strategies written by Harold Rosen who was then the minister of the North Shore Unitarian Church. With this list, Harold invites us to "look behind the all-too-familiar things, and see the Larger Reality they represent." I review this list at the start of each Christmas season and I'm now far more successful at keeping my "mental and spiritual health intact."

I offer Harold's list here, an early Yuletide gift for anyone who takes the time to read my blog.
May your ramp-up to Christmas be only as frantic as you wish it to be.
Season Of Symbols

Gifts - they are more than stuffed boxes covered with shiny paper and ribbons; they are tangible tokens of all those thoughtful things we wanted to 'do' for our loved ones and friends, all year long, but never got around to it.

Cards - the are more than donations to Hallmark and overtime pay for the postal service; they are humble hints of the much we'd like to say if only time, emotional strength and eloquence abounded.

Lights - they are more than electrical fire hazards and jobs for the handy-person in our midst; they conquer the darkness of season and soul with a glimpse of celestial spendour.

Carols - they are more than memory-markers and excuses for extra choir rehearsals; they are auditory proof that heaven is nigh, and that the layers of tradition can heal the layers of our pain.

Angels - they are more than plastic ornaments on trees... they are those whispers we hear just in time, saying "you have what it takes.' 'Good deeds can be fun.' 'Things pass, but Love abides' and 'all will turn out well, despite appearances.'

In peace,

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Creating an Animal Friendly World

"Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar."

Bradley Miller

This picture and quote were taken from the Peta website.

So beautiful in its simplicity.

Nameste, Shelley

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gestation period of a book (or the neurosis of an author with a soon-to-be published book)

The gestation period of an elephant is 22 months. Those poor elephant mothers! But then elephant mothers aren't like human mothers. Unlike us they likely accept their condition without worry or anxiety. I doubt thoughts of 'what if?' run through their large elephant heads. They just carry on, accepting what is, feeling heavy with the weight but not stressing over it.

Human mothers stress over ever little ache, pain and twinge. Am I gaining too much weight? Not enough? Is my baby going to be healthy? Will it have all its fingers and toes? My ankles are swelling! What does it mean?? Hmm.... I'm quite sure elephant mom's don't worry about swollen ankles.

The gestation period of a book is almost as long as that of an elephant, and the author is plagued with as many worries as the human mom. As I get closer to the launch date of my spring '08 book, Gotcha!, I'm becoming more and more fretful. Did I tie up all the loose ends? Are the characters believable? Did I overwrite such and such a scene? Is the ending sappy? Flat? Is it a truly stupid story? Will the reviewers hate it? Should I withdraw the manuscript and send back my advance money??

I remember the final weeks before the birth of each of my daughters. I loved the feeling of the wee baby feet kicking against my abdomen, the baby hiccups, the image of my unborn child curled up inside of me. But did I ever worry! How would the birth go? Would there be complications? Would I be a good mother? Would my child be healthy?

It's hard to believe that a soon-to-be published book can be as anxiety-arousing as a new baby, but there really are many similarities. Like the mother about to enter the hospital, knowing she has to leave her dignity at the door, the author also feels vulnerable. And unworthy. The soon-to-be mother wonders if she is up to the task of raising a child. The author wonders if she has actually written a worthwhile story. Should the new mother have remained childless? Did the publisher make a big mistake in agreeing to publish the author's book?

I know intellectually that worry is a useless emotion. I also know that Gotcha! will find an audience, or not.

All three of my daughter have grown to be fine young women. They are each doing a wonderful job of making their own way in the world. Each of my books has done the same. I enjoyed writing them. Each story felt worthy enough to become a book as I wrote it. I have received wonderful feedback from readers that reassure me that the the paper they were printed on was not wasted. That's what matters in the end.

I hope that each of my daughters will strive to leave the world a better place, whether it is through kindness, wisdom or through one of their many talents. I also hope that each of my books will leave a positive imprint in the hearts and minds of my readers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New York City, Here We Come!

On Friday I'm going to New York City with 15 other women, mostly women from my bookclub. We will spend four full days taking in the sights, smells and tastes of this amazing city.

Seeing the shows, the architecture, visiting the restaurants and museums, it will all be fun, but mostly it will be wonderful to spend four carefree days with other women who are at roughly the same place on their life journeys as I am. We will all take a break from being mothers, wives, short-order cooks, dog-walkers, employees etc. to bask in friendship and camaraderie.

"I believe that these circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we are weak and sing with us when we are strong. Let's lean back and let the arms of women's friendships carry us and help us to know ourselves better, and live our lives together." Sark.