Vacation with Myself

Vacation with Myself

This is the first time in five years that I’ve taken a vacation for me.

I’ve taken time off to take kids to college, or go to a workshop, and husband and I have taken a few trips over the past few years. But this long ten day stretch has been selfishly taken for my own time to re-charge.

So many people asked me, where are you going? My answer was- no where. Blessedly no where. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love planning trips to different places. I have a bucket list of places to visit before I’m too old to travel.  And I love going on adventures with my spouse, but this year I knew that I needed some time alone. So what makes this such a wonderful vacation?

  • The boss is also out of town. So no texts, emails, or worries about a laundry list of tasks waiting for me when I return.
  • This is the first time I did not have to prep too far ahead to make sure big jobs were completed before I left. It causes tons of stress, but we hired someone to complete that job, so I don’t have to worry about it, and can actually unplug from work.
  • My location- my apartment high in the sky is the perfect place to hang out. It’s small enough to feel like I’m somewhere else, and conveniently far enough away from the work environment. Bonus- the balcony that sits in the shade most of the day and has a beautiful view of the river.
  • I’m mostly alone everyday for hours. It means no one is waiting for me to do anything for them. I can eat, walk, nap, read and do whatever I feel like doing without the usual worry about anyone else’s agenda.
  • It’s quiet. And I’ve craved peace and quiet so I can think and even write again.

 

I realize when I return to work I need to carve out more time on my own to relax and re-charge regularly so I don’t burn out. I need to selfishly guard my time. A hard lesson to learn when you are a woman and you’ve spent most of your adult life giving selflessly to others.

How do you carve out time for yourself? I’d love to hear from you.

 

©annettealaine

Becoming a Grown-Up

Today is important. It’s my oldest son’s birthday. Twenty-seven years ago I was tired, scared and dehydrated as he finally emerged after twenty-two hours of labor.

I thought finishing high school made me a grown-up. Then I decided I became an adult when I graduated college, began my career and a year later got married.

But true mature adulthood came when I shuffled down the hall to see my beaten and bruised child with the long cone-head crying in the hospital nursery. Love and a fierce desire to protect my baby hurtled me into the real world of grown-ups. I never looked back as I eventually had three small children to care for as their father worked sixty plus hours per week.

We pretended that we had this adult thing together while I realized, deep in my heart, that my husband had not yet crossed the grown-up threshold. He had a good job, we had a mortgage, car payments, and student loans along with three children, but the real maturity didn’t come until we divorced.

I’ve been thinking about that today as another important event is taking place across town. The ex-spouse is “retiring.” I put that in quotation marks because he was encouraged to grab the golden parachute as they pushed him out of the company he spent thirty-three years a slave. Yes, that number is correct- thirty-three years with one company. No one works their whole lives at one place anymore ( unless they own it.)

This day is one I often thought about and was almost around for fifteen years ago. The company was floundering then, too, and they offered a choice- move to Texas or take a package.

I wasn’t moving again. We spent a decade moving every couple of years, and I was worn out with starting again and again. The kids were getting older and I wanted them settled in school. We talked about it. I wanted the package and a husband around again (he had been traveling the past five years.) He wanted the company. In the end they offered a position in a small town an hour away. He took it, and I knew then that his choice sealed our fate.

At the time I cautioned him that his choice would change the dynamics of our relationship. It did. I asked if this blind devotion to a company over his family was worth it. He believed that his continual playing of “the game” would reward him with the coveted position he had aspired to. It did.

In the end, he got the big promotion and we got divorced. He was mostly a stranger to his kids, and becoming a divorced Dad with a specified visitation schedule forced him to actively be involved in parenting our three kids. He became a real grown-up in his mid-forties.

And now all that sacrifice, all those holidays and family events missed because of work, days and weeks and months that he spent far from home as he traveled for work, a marriage that withered on the vine, unable to compete for the attention given to work. All fall-out from a job that is now showing him to the door with a handshake and a pat on the back. I have one burning question: thirty-three years of single-minded devotion- was it worth it?

©annettealaine

 

The Drought

The Drought

Blame it on the weather.

The rain should give me the motivation to write because I can’t walk or sit on the porch, so I have no other activities to hold me back.

But my muse is taking a break.

I haven’t had any recent revelations, no existential crisis, and nary a deep thought in weeks.

Perhaps a vacation will help.

 

I have no plans for my upcoming vacation. It doesn’t feel right even calling it “vacation.” I’m not headed for the mountains, or the lake, or another city- I’m staying home and doing the usual stuff. The only difference is I don’t have to go to work.

I usually use a portion of my vacation to tackle a project I don’t make time for- going through the closets or cleaning out the garage. But, I did that months ago as I prepared for our big move.

Maybe the secret is not about time to write but about giving myself the space to think and dream. To sit, observe, taste new words, roll sentences around on my tongue and string together a group of words or sentences to form a poem, or story.

Perhaps my muse will return from her journey soon, refreshed and renewed.

I hope so.

©annettealaine2017

 

 

Clara, Mr. Tiffany and Me: The Art of Creating

Clara, Mr. Tiffany and Me: The Art of Creating

 

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I’m reading Clara and Mr. Tiffany, by Susan Vreeland. It’s an excellent story about the women’s department at Tiffany Glass and their artistic contributions to the Tiffany brand, particularly his famous Tiffany lamps.

The themes of artists and how they create, and how women fought to work in the arts and crafts fields is well documented and sobering. Clara’s struggle is still real in many ways- for me personally it’s the balance of writing while juggling the demands of my life: work, marriage and family.

I’ve read all the books on how to carve time to write. I’ve tried writing prompts, creating a space to write, and formulating a daily routine to sit down in front of the computer (or picking up a pen.)

But, for me, it’s not that simple. I need quiet time to clear my mind of all its incessant chatter. Then there is the clamoring for attention by others. Sometimes I walk with earbuds connected to a silent iPod. I want to get lost in my thoughts as I breathe in the world around me.

I drive to work with the radio off. I often try composing poetry in my head as I drive. Today, I was writing this post as I waited at traffic lights. Sometimes it works.

But, more often I am distracted by the host of other people and tasks that fill my day. Here’s what typically happens:

I went for my walk Thursday evening and passing a mosaic that resides under the bridge I had an idea for my next blog post. I composed some of it as I continued to walk. When I stepped in the door I quickly showered and changed and went out to eat with my husband.

I keep composing in my head as I got ready for bed. I will sit down first thing in the morning and get this down I thought. Then I woke up and remembered my dentist appointment. And then the boss called and I had to go in and fix something at work. And then I remembered I needed to get the cat flea medicine and we were out of toilet paper…

You get the drift. I didn’t write that day. On Saturday I tried again, but by then the words sounded stale and the distractions around me kept me from recapturing the feelings I had Thursday evening.

Maybe I am just not disciplined enough. Or maybe I don’t value my talent or my time.

Clara knew the men in the Tiffany Glass Company did not think she was a serious artist. But she believed she was and she fought for her right to create.

Food for thought.

©annettealaine2017

 

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs

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I stood behind a man at Walgreens buying two dozen eggs today. His children bounced up and down beside him. When, Dad, they asked. When do we get to dye our eggs?

I remember my mother trying to clean the house for Easter company, prepare the large ham for baking, all the while fending off our constant refrain: When are we going to dye the eggs?

She would send us out to play, to clean our rooms, to take a nap. Finally a dozen and a half eggs would be boiled. Two for each of us to dye, two for her to dye for herself and my father, and a few extras just in case.

Old chipped mugs and cups would be set on newspaper lining the picnic table in the backyard. McCormack’s colorful hatted liquid food colorings would be dropped in the vinegar scented boiling water: Robin’s egg blue, purple, orange, yellow, green, scarlet, as we discussed among ourselves which colors we would choose this Easter.

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One sibling would drop her egg in all the colors. In the end the poor egg resembled the color of weak coffee. We were fascinated and horrified at her choice to ruin one of her precious eggs.

We fought over colors and bickered over how much time each person took to achieve the perfect shade of orange. Our fingers turned various shades and someone always cracked an egg as they dropped it off the spoon into the cup.

When we had finished and our masterpieces were ready, we trooped to the dining room where seven baskets sat waiting for our artistic treasures. The eggs soon nestled in the green cellophane grass next to a hollow chocolate bunny or lamb, jelly beans and yellow marshmallow peeps.

As I watched the dad leave with a child in each hand, I thought of my own three, all grown now, wondering if their own memories of dyeing eggs was similar to mine.

Do they miss asking mom: When do we get to dye our eggs?

©annettealaine2017

No Regrets

No Regrets

In my line of work, you experience death. We go on the death watch journey with a family as someone’s loved one goes into a decline. Or it’s an unexpected shock- and we must be the calm in their tumultuous storm of shock and grief.

I have answered the phone when someone calls with the news. I have sat and listened as a family sits and waits for their appointment with clergy to plan the funeral. And what I hear over and over again is:

Don’t waste a moment.

Tell everyone you love them.

Hug often.

Fill your days with things that bring you joy.

In a week that in our biz is filled with more tedious busy-ness and mind-numbing details than is the norm, it’s easy to forget those wise words. But this week was the perfect time for me to repeat the sage advice like a mantra as I drove to work each day.

For my children- they are ready to leap to the next adventure. Perhaps my concerns have some merit, but this is the time to fly. I have few regrets, but can look back and wonder how my life would have turned out if I had boldly picked choice A over choice B.

For myself- I’ve already started 2017 with a bang. Our radical lifestyle change has reaped many blessings and giving both of us an appreciation for another chance to turn the page and start something new.

As the grieving widower sat speaking quietly to us with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes,

We had a great life, but the last ten years was more than we were promised. And we did everything she wanted to do, and had no regrets. We loved, we played and we lived every moment.

©annettealaine2017

Motivation Saturday

Motivation Saturday

Yesterday was a lesson in motivation. My husband was up with the sun as I rolled over and decided to sleep in on a Saturday. Nothing planned. No place to be. It was heaven.

Sitting on the porch later with a cup of coffee and a perfectly toasted english muffin, I watched boats head out for the day. I thought of grabbing my laptop and writing a poem, but I was as lazy as the cat dozing in the sun.

Husband had an idea- why not go to the Jax Book Fest across the river at the library. Rather than taking a power walk, why not head across the bridge and explore?

Motivation to work up an appetite for lunch and maybe find a new book to read. I was up for the challenge.

This was the inaugural year of the book fest. Local authors-many genres represented: children’s lit, YA, romance, paranormal, non-fiction, and one book of poetry. I headed over to speak to the gentleman poet. His poetry was quirky but empowering. I walked away and later decided to go back and buy his slim volume. He was so grateful he autographed the book twice!

I spoke to a local newspaper columnist who has had national success with his book about a year exploring National Parks. Lassoing the Sun, by Mark Woods, weaves two stories- his sabbatical from the paper to spend a year at hand-picked parks to learn about them and the rangers who protect them, and about his mother who with Mark’s dad, taught him to love our national treasures by spending vacations at various parks.

I thanked Mark for visiting my place of work- a historic church on the St. Johns River as part of a newspaper series he recently completed- walking through Jacksonville. Our city is the largest in square footage in the U.S. but it is filled with beltways, highways but few sidewalks.

My question for him was- when are you going to write a book based on this series? He and I began talking about the time it takes to write a book, and the fear that there won’t be an interest in reading something you put your heart into. I assured him I know many people, myself included, who would love to read the whole series in book form. Blogging a book- he had never heard of such a thing! He agreed to give it serious thought. I walked away amazed that I had motivated a published author to keep writing!

As we walked down the grand staircase towards the exit, we spotted a mutual friend- a musician and author of three books published locally. As we caught up he turned to me and asked why he had not seen any poems lately on my blog. I explained that 2016 seemed to be a bad year for my writing, and my promise to begin 2017 writing more had fizzled as we geared up to move.

He told me my poems were good and that he always enjoyed them. He asked if I ever thought of publishing them. Of course I’ve thought about it fleetingly and then decided no one wants to read poetry, and about ten more excuses. He said, No excuses. Just do it. Pull them together and do it. And next year, you can have a table right next to mine. 

Motivation Saturday.

Just do it.

©annettealaine2017

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