Vacation’s Over, Now Back to Work

Vacations end all too soon, don’t they? We thoroughly enjoyed enough Puerto Vallarta sunshine (I used nearly a whole tube of sunscreen) and sleep (9 to 10 hours a night) to finally feel ready to face whatever this year brings.

Like pretty much everything in my life, I viewed this trip from a writer’s perspective. After all, most of us who love putting words on the page or screen, never stop thinking about writing even if at a subconscious level. We’re always coming up with new ideas and settings, mentally recording bits of dialogue or incidents, and I had plenty of time to do just that.

pool view, villa del mar, jan. 2019As you can imagine from this photo (the view’s from our balcony) I spent a fair bit of time observing people, sometimes from this patio or down by the poolside. Vacationers’ reading habits came as a bit of a surprise. Over half of the people reading by the poolside were holding paperback books. The majority of readers were 50 years and over. But many in the same age group, along with the younger generation, were also reading and/or scrolling through their phones. What surprised me most was the lack of Kindles and iPads there. I brought one paperback which I’d started reading before we left and then turned to my iPad for the rest of the trip.

patio view, villa del mar, jan. 2019This is the view of the other patio along the side of our corner suite. It was my quiet place to think and reflect and, yes do a little light editing for one hour a day. I also pondered writing goals and opportunities for the year. It might look idyllic but what you can’t see is the construction site just to the left, where workers were jackhammering and bulldozing to build a new hotel. Luckily, we weren’t in our room most of the day, and they didn’t work evenings or Sundays.

Lastly, and most importantly, this vacation was about family, creating new memories, jotting notes in my journal, and looking forward to the future. The shot below is of my husband and daughter, sharing a quiet moment. Actually, it’s quite momentous because my husband used to loathe the idea of putting his bare feet in the ocean, until this trip. He’s come a long way. Next time, he says he might actually try swimming in it. Baby steps, right?

elida and bark, playa de los muertos, jan. 2019So now I’m back to major edits, the day job, writing workshop facilitating, and more family stuff. Given that I’ve been on a leave of absence from the day job, it’s been a while since I’ve had a normal routine. But normal is okay. In fact, it’s just fine.

Advertisements

A Mini-Break To Start 2019 Off Right!

To wind up this three-month break from the day job, tending to family needs and other obligations, I’m excited to be heading off to sunny, warm Puerto Vallarta tomorrow. We’ll be joining my daughter and future son-in-law for fun, relaxation, and site-seeing.

This is my second trip to this wonderful city, but the first time we get to share the experience with family. It could be our last Mexico trip for a while, but who knows?

mexico, 2018The photo is a glimpse of the resort where I’ll be staying. I’m bringing lots of sunscreen and books on my iPad, and yes, a little light editing for those early mornings with coffee in hand, when the days feel fresh, creative, and promising.

I’ll also bring my laptop, but don’t guarantee that I’ll actually look at it too often. Those two-for-one happy hours and all that sun tend to sap my energy as the day goes on.

I won’t be blogging until the last week of January, when I’ll catch up with all of the great bloggers I follow. Until then, adiós!

Great Blogs to Follow This Year

love bloggingLate last year, I began promoting my blog on new platforms and following the blogs of others. It’s been great fun, but also time consuming, I have to admit. Still, just when I think I’ve followed as many people as I can, along comes a terrific Facebook post about the top 100 Canadian book bloggers.

I’m Canadian, so this is exciting stuff for me, but as I scrolled down the list it became clear that many of these blogs will appeal to bloggers everywhere. The list includes publishers, magazines, book reviewers, and writers that includes a wide array of angles and viewpoints.

Go ahead, give it a try. I know I’m going to follow a few, although I’m quite sure I won’t be able to manage all 100. You can find the list HERE

Happy blogging and reading!

New Year, New Start

Happy New Year 2019 To Reach Design New Year 2018Happy New Year! How’s your year going so far? Those who’ve followed my blog for a while know that I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do have ongoing writing goals and household projects that manage to get done, more or less.

I’m reluctant to project the completion of any writing projects in 2019, due to my mother’s serious health issues, but I am turning a new page and trying to focus on all the positive things coming up in 2019.

My daughter’s wedding in September will be one. A vacation in Mexico in a few days is another, and then there will be the completion of my daughter and son-in-law’s newly built house. Can’t wait for all of that!

I’ll write every day this year, as I have in previous years, and monitor my mom’s situation and that of my nineteen-and-a-half-year-old cat, who appears to be in his final year as well.

Needless to say, 2019 will be full of ups and downs and I’m mentally preparing as best I can. These past 2-1/2 months of day-job leave have been extremely helpful to tend to family needs and responsibilities. I have one month left before returning to the daily grind. We’ll see how it goes. No matter what, I’ll learn a lot this year, try to do what I can for others, and hopefully a year from now won’t have too many regrets.

I wish all of you a happy, peaceful, prosperous, and creative new year. We’ll do our best, right? What more can we ask of ourselves.

Christmas Greetings

sheikh-tuhin-Christmas[1]I took a close look at my calendar this week and nearly fell out of my chair. Christmas is less than a week away. The busy-ness of holiday preparations along with the usual chores and responsibilities means that I often lose track of time. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I don’t do as much Christmas preparation as I used to. My kids (30 & 24) decided a while ago that they were too old for gingerbread-cookie making and stockings. These days, my mother is the one who needs assistance with organizing, purchasing, and wrapping presents, although that’s not much extra work.

My son’s coming home from Calgary for Christmas and I’m delighted to be serving a dinner for ten people, a little larger group than normal, but hey, I got this. I’ve been cooking turkey dinners with all the trimmings for quite some time.

Next year, my daughter will be moving into her new house, and she wants to take over the cooking tradition. Having never cooked a Christmas dinner before, and planning to host fifteen people will definitely require a little help.

I want to take this moment to say Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! I wish you a joyful, happy Christmas with good food and good company. The older I get the more I value family time, and especially this day of celebration to acknowledge all that has brought us together.

Hallowe’en Memories

halloween-wallpaper-large006[1]Whiling visiting my mother at the seniors home last weekend, we started talking about Hallowe’en. As is common with Mom these days, she’s at her best while reminiscing. She reminded me that when I was a kid in the sixties, a number of the neighborhood moms  would make popcorn balls and rice krispie squares to hand out. My mother made a big batch of fudge, and my sister and I would help her place four or five pieces in little paper bags.

My sister and I, and our friends, would spend days making costumes (few of us could afford store-bought anything in those days) carving pumpkins, and figuring out the most efficient routes in our neighborhood. There were no townhouse or condo complexes where we lived, just detached homes, so we planned carefully.

Pillowcases in hand, we scurried from door to door. It was exhilarating and exhausting. After a couple of hours, our pillowcases would be full and  heavy. In those days, it never occurred to us to look for contaminated candy. We ate what we wanted with abandon. But then things changed.

Needles, or some other contaminant, began appearing in candy in other areas of the city. By the time I became a parent twenty-five years later, Hallowe’en came with plenty of cautions…Sort through candy carefully. Don’t eat anything homemade. Don’t go to doors alone. Adult supervision became practically mandatory. Fireworks were banned in some areas, due to accidents and horrific things done to small animals. Somehow violence had permeated what I once thought of as a completely safe evening.

I’m not sure if all the cautions rubbed off on my kids, but they were never big fans of knocking on strangers’ doors to ask for candy, Nor did they like to be scared. So we opted for the malls, which opened for trick-or-treating from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, where the focus was on fun rather than being scared.

These days, my kids are grownups who no longer live at home. We still live on the same hilly street where they were raised. It takes over thirty steps to reach our front door, some of which can be slippery in the rain. On a good night, the most trick-or-treaters I ever had was twenty. New row houses and townhouse complexes have been built the next street over, so I’ve placed myself on a Halloween hiatus.

If I become a grandparent, perhaps the ritual will resume. If it does, I’ll be there, ready to help, and to share stories of the Hallowe’ens I fondly remember.

Stepping Off the Treadmill

lazy[1]Plenty of writers face burnout, but these days mine centers around real-life family issues which culminated in July when I learned that my mother has a cancerous tumor on her pancreas. We learned this four days before we’d arranged (after much cleaning, sorting, and recycling) to move her into assisted living for her deteriorating dementia issues.

Compounding the challenges was the state of the apartment building she’s living in. The woodframe building’s exterior was being replaced when the contractors discovered major rot inside, resulting in more work and special levy fees for condo owners.

My sister, Val, and I dealt with all of this and were doing okay until Val had a bad fall last month and broke her left kneecap into several pieces. A two-hour long surgery occurred the same day and her knee’s been put back together with wire and screws. She’s currently in an enormous leg brace and will need help around the house and to get to physiotherapy, and so forth.

Combined with my day job and the facilitating I do for a writers’ group on Saturday mornings, I’m feeling a tad worn out. I’d already spent many months going out to my mother’s home to shop, cook, and clean on weekends because she was no longer capable. So, with the support and understanding of terrific work colleagues, I’ve just begun a four-month leave of absence from the day job. As you can imagine, it won’t be all fun or relaxation, but it’s a start at the slowing down process I feel is necessary for my physical and mental well-being.

I had one day to train my replacement. After that I went home, and had a nap, exhausted. I’ve been napping a lot lately. As writers and family members, we need to recognize when it’s time to step off the busy-life treadmill we’ve inadvertently hopped onto.

I’m grateful that I’m able to do this. I’m hoping to write and read a little more, as they are calming distractions from real-life challenges. Besides, it’s what I do. And I know I’ll sleep more, and visit my mother and sister more often, and take care of what needs to be taken care of. It feels somewhat surreal to end the year this way (I won’t be back at work till mid-Feb.) but it feels right. I don’t know if four months is too long or not long enough, but time will tell.