Friday, May 31, 2013

An Essential Writing Tip From Charlie Brown

{Thank you, Tim Fall, for directing me to this video today. This is SO me right now. :)}

If I start writing now
When I'm not really rested,
It could upset my thinking --
Which is not good at all!
I'll get a fresh start tomorrow.
And it's not due till Wednesday,
So I'll have all of Tuesday --
Unless something should happen.
Why does this always happen?
I should be outside playing!
Getting fresh air and sunshine!
I work best under pressure.
And there'll be lots of pressure
If I wait till tomorrow.
I should start writing now.
But if I start writing now,
When I'm not really rested,
It could upset my thinking --
Which is not good at all!

Heart Matters

A cityscape is not something I see everyday. I took the picture below from a cardiologist's office. As soon as the nurse left the room, I turned off the light to reduce the glare from the window. My thought at this moment was: What in the world am I doing here?

I told you I took a month off from blogging to "square some things away." What I didn't tell you is that during that time I spent a night in a sleep lab, took a trip to the ER, visited my my doctor two times, wore a Holter monitor for 24 hours, and was given a stress test.

As it turns out, I have a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. I won't go into all of the specifics. Basically my heart short circuits with every beat. It sounds scary and it can cause some issues (like fainting or sudden death), but the good news is -- there is a cure. At some point I will need to have an ablation. In the past this meant undergoing open heart surgery; now it's an  arthroscopic thing.

Sorry if these pictures seem redundant. It was hard to stop myself from taking pictures of this peony. It's been equally hard to decide which ones to share with you, so I'm giving you all my favorites. :)
I overheard my daughter mutter to herself, "My mom is in love with a flower."

In the mean time, I don't have many restrictions. Of course I should try to avoid things that might make my heart beat 300x a minute (like extreme sports or intense emotional stress). If I feel like I'm going to faint, I should call 911. I can still exercise moderately.

That's about it. I sit down to write about Oliver Twist and all I can think of is, " Oliver Twist is a good book. I like it."  It's hard to write about fiction when real life feels so very real.

I've been tossing around whether or not I should say something about this on the blog. This morning I finally decided that I should. This syndrome has been a major factor in my life story. It's always been there, behind the scenes, affecting some of the choices I have made. I don't really feel like this is bad news. It's just news -- really good information for me to have. I'm suddenly aware of how absolutely essential it is to have a prayerful life -- to cast all of my cares on God, to rest and trust in Him constantly.

Thank you for hanging in there with me, dear blog friends. Your encouragement is truly medicine for my heart. 

Much love to all.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Quote: One Insular Tahiti

…Consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life.
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Charles Dickens in Ohio

My husband and I stayed at the Golden Lamb in 2001.

"The great English novelist Charles Dickens visited The Golden Lamb during his first trip to America in 1842. Although not quite 30 years-old when he arrived in the U.S. that January, he had already written Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby and number of his other great works. Around 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, 1842, after spending 5 hours traveling the 30 miles from Cincinnati on a stagecoach, he dined at the Bradley House, as we were then known. He, however, found it 'a Temperance Hotel' and could not get the brandy he ordered or any other 'spirits' . . ."

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Motherhood of a Different Kind (and a bit about books)

My husband planted this meadow for me a few years ago for Mother's Day.

Yesterday my six year old son made a comment about Mother's Day that I want to remember. He said, 
"Mother's Day is like a birthday all moms share."  

That's true. I love sharing my special day with all mothers -- both biological mothers and those who have a "motherhood of a different kind" like the woman whom C.S. Lewis described in The Great Divorce:

Only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face. "Is it?" I whispered to my guide.
"Not at all," said he, "It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green."
"She seems to be . . . well, a person of particular importance?"
"Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things." . . .
"And who are all these young men and women on each side?"
"They are her sons and daughters."
"She must have had a very large family, Sir."
"Every young man or boy that met her became her son -- even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter."
"Isn't that a bit hard on their own parents?"
"No. There are those that steal other people's children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives . . . It is like when you throw a stone into a pool and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? . . . But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.

It's that lovely and inspiring? We need spiritual mothers in this aching fear-filled world -- mothers to nurture, to calm, to visualize achievement for us, and to love us unconditionally! Such mothers truly are "the great ones."

I mentioned the other day that I finished Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. What I didn't tell you is that I did a lot of traveling on foot while listened to an audio version. It seems like for each strange place Gulliver traveled to, I now have a real place to associate with it -- a river bank, a wooded path, a road, a meadow, a farm.

I'm starting Oliver Twist today. I'm really looking forward to this one, so I hope it's not a disappointment. I've never read a single piece of Charles Dickens' work. I feel like Mr. Dickens is an acquaintance but not yet a friend. I've seen a few Masterpiece Theatre movies based on his books -- Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol. And I saw a version of Oliver Twist years ago. 

Some of what I know about Mr. Dickens I learned while studying Harriet Beecher Stowe. She sent him a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin. He read her novel and responded with praise for her "generous feeling", yet he went on to gently criticized her for seeking to "prove too much."

I once stayed in an American hotel that Charles Dickens stayed in. The proprietors tell an amusing story about the historic visit. Maybe I'll tell you about it in my next post.

Until next time then. :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear Diary, I'm Back!

Hello friends! Good to be back!

My oh my, what a month! I took the time I needed to get several pressing things squared away. It feels good to have these things checked off my very long to-do list.

I'll be honest with you -- I had hoped to return to blogging with several really clever posts in queue . . .

But that just didn't happen.

Last night I realized -- with a little panic -- that I haven't written anything at all this month. (Well, except for a few Twitter and Facebook status updates, but they don't really count as writing.) I tossed and turned in bed until I remembered something my blog friend Jillian (who now goes by Mabel) used to say:
"My blog: my rules." 
Simple as that. So I'm going to do what I need to do so that I don't have to give up blogging and studying the classics during this busy season of my life. Right now that means I need to write in more of a "dear diary" fashion. Why am I cringing as I type this? I feel like I'm apologizing!

I'm deeply grateful to all of you who have stayed with me this month. Your encouragement gives me joy!

Quick update: I finished Gulliver's Travels. I found it a bit odd, but I wasn't bored. I'm hoping to decode some of the satire soon. I expect to say, "Oh! Now I get it!" or something like that. We'll see.

I'm planning to start reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens on Monday May 13th. If you'd like to read along, please join me for the Oliver Twist synchro-read on Facebook!

What have you been up to this past month? Anything you want to bring me up to speed on?