Friday, April 21, 2017

Writing, Gardening, Getting Fit, Making Lists. . . Spring Organising. . .

Perhaps not surprisingly, we still feel a bit tired and breathless around here. Behind the scenes, you won't know, we've spent the past couple of months with our small apartment -- pied-à-terre in the city until we moved here permanently from the island -- on the market, then sold, and now just a week until the closing date. So packing up and cleaning, making more decisions about what to keep, what to give away. And meanwhile, we have only a few more days with our newlyweds and their little one.
Despite the busy-ness, the emotional intensities, I seem to be arriving at some clarity about what I want to focus on at this stage of retirement, finally feeling somewhat settled in our new urban lifestyle. I'm making up schedules to support, accommodate, perhaps even enforce these priorities, and I'm anticipating more time with friends; more attention to my writing life; more gym time and longer running distances; and transformation of the lovely garden we were left by the previous owner into one that is truly ours, that expresses and extends our new city home.
I started a new journal yesterday with lists of tasks and an accompanying dayplanner, and one of those lists comprises topics for my next week or two of blog posts: some Short and Sweet posts about progress on our Terrace Garden; a What I Wore post on my mother-of-the-bride dress, inevitably, I suspect, accompanied by a few words about seeing our last child married; another What I Wore post gathering up a few of the outfits I've enjoyed wearing lately. Besides these shorter posts, I'm planning to write one or two more sustained pieces, one about The Continuing Waves of a Big Move/Retirement, and another about Friends(hip) Old and New. The latter will perhaps overlap, content-wise, with the former.
Not at all sure how this scheduled approach will play out, nor even why I feel I need to tell you I'm adopting it. But I guess it has something to do with working my way through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and working to accept, even represent myself as trying to "Write" without immediately following that with all kinds of qualifications (I've only ever had a few academic articles published, nothing "creative"). Part of that demands that I take my effort, my goal, seriously enough to block out time for it, even, perhaps, to think of it as Work (in the positive sense of the term).

I also think that telling you about it has something to do with the process of Retiring and Making a Big Move; the way those have affected my sense of Identity; my awareness of, and dismay over, a fair amount of floundering that you've probably registered here; and my hope that I'm setting some direction now, that it might be a direction you're interested in reading about as I move forward.
And since you're asking (yes, I can hear you ;-) I am continuing to plug away at that writing I've alluded to, and someday perhaps I'll even be able to tell you more about it. It's been on the back burner this past week or so, but I've booked a coffee-and-writing date with myself later this week.

Do you think it's Spring's onset that's spurring me on? All these leaves unfurling, blossoms opening, insisting on our trying to match the exuberant renewal and growth? . . . . Exemplifying that idea in the photos above are the leaves of a splendid and sizeable ornamental maple that was left here for us -- I've been quite mesmerised by the delicacy of its emergent foliage and couldn't resist sharing a few photos with you.

Now tell me: do you feel an urge, in the Spring, toward new projects? Or did you get all that underway at the New Year? or, as used to be more the case for me, do you save new starts for the Fall? I must admit I'm a bit apprehensive about longer, lighter days calling me outside, fine for the Running, the Gardening, the Visiting with Friends, but perhaps not so promising for establishing and maintaining some solid writing habits. Advice? Encouragement?


29 comments:

  1. I can't wait to hear more about your garden with some artful photos. I'd esp. like to see the view from it (which I know is very urban). I love that combo of urban and natural and I think the city dwellers need to show the rest of the peeps that city gardens are a thing - and as full of merit as the fancy rural ones. Of course, I'm biased!

    I don't find this time of year very enlivening. I'm bedraggled at this point. And then, when the weather flips for a minute I become so hopeful, so happy - even as I know it's a stupid way, my brain can't stop itself! I think, by early June, when we've had green trees and gardens for a couple of weeks, I'll start to feel more creative.

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    1. The view is VERY urban, especially now as a building is going up right smack dab across the lane from us. . . but I absolutely agree with you that there's much more garden to the city than my friends on "our" former island would credit (many of them still use the cliché "the big smoke" when they're making a trip to the city).
      I think our respective climates make a big difference in perception of spring. I love Toronto and Montreal (even Ottawa!) in early June, the mix of lush garden foliage and so much brick and hardscaping....

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  2. I could feel that almost all things are settled down and you're slowly (or fast :-)) enjoying everything around you- I'm sure that you'll find time and delight in all the things you've chosen.
    It takes some time to find oneself again in new conditions
    Dottoressa

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    1. It takes more time than I could have predicted, but I think I'm at least seeing the outline now. Thank you.

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  3. I do think that you and Pater need to take a moment to pat yourselves on the back - all four 'children' now married and very, very settled. That's a big deal!

    I'd also love to see more of your urban terrace - like K.Line above, I love a city with lots of greenery. When I first lived in Germany many years ago I lived a 15-minute walk from the downtown of a mid-sized city (the pop. now is around 200,000), yet a stone's throw away from a centuries-old large city park. I'd love to live like that again, but my husband needs space and a lawn to cut (even if our lawn is the size of the proverbial postage stamp!).

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    1. Thanks Patricia -- it does feel like a big deal, really.
      Honestly, I was a bit worried about how my guy would react to being without a yard to absorb some of his energies. So far, so good, although honestly, between the moving and the unpacking and the shifting here and there, he's been physically busy enough (and he's quite enjoying having a well-equipped gym right in the building as well).
      I'm glad to hear that you and perhaps a few other readers would be interested in seeing our terrace garden. Coming up . . . .

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  4. Boy, you said it perfectly Dottoressa, "it takes some time to find oneself again in new conditions". To that I say, Amen, yes, indeed, right on, and that could not be more true. Perfectly summed up. To everything there is a season....and all that.
    A. in London

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    1. She does have a way with words, doesn't she, our Dottoressa ;-)

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  5. So you found a solution for your small apartment - good for you. It must be a relief to know that all that sorting and moving of things will be over at some moment.
    Thank you for sharing so generously your experiences with setting your priorities and finding a way to write (whatever it is). It means a lot to me - for obvious reasons.

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    1. It is a relief, Eleonore. Such a relief to finally be nearing consolidation and simplification.
      I'm pleased to hear that my experience is worthwhile to you. Your own changes are rapidly approaching . . .

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  6. Routines, exercise, as well as creativity factor prominently in my retirement too...
    it must feel like a weight has been lifted now that your other property is closing soon and that you are able to let that go.
    I'd be interested in knowing more about your writing project.

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    1. We do feel lighter -- finally to be back to one property, in the same city as most of the family.
      I hope someday I may be able to talk about what I'm writing -- who knows, though? I suppose it all depends how loud the Mean Inner Critic howls ;-)

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  7. Your posts always seem to bring much to the surface for me. Your musing put words to some of my feelings.

    Ali

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    1. Thank you for saying that, Ali. It makes a difference.

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  8. In lieu of a longer comment and with reference to the writing, I send you this...go sharpen the quill,Mater.
    http://thehookmag.com/2017/03/adding-murders-began-second-sentence-book-makes-instantly-better-125462/

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    1. Too funny, Anne! Are you still working on your own book? (wasn't it a mystery? I'm sure you'd write a brilliant feisty detective!)

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    2. I have indeed finished it and sent it off to try and find an agent. No luck so far but have taken advice on Amazon publishing. This is the next project. Along with researching the second in the series...oh yes, a series...one is never enough...

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    3. oh, good for you! Have you found readers yet for it? Must be fun, I'll bet.

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  9. Like you, I'm a list-maker. It's possible I like making lists even more than doing the things on my lists. ;) And yes, springtime is energizing for me. But, frankly, so is autumn, those two transitions being the most dramatic. To a lesser extent, so is the New Year, but perhaps that's because one can indulge in only so much holiday Bacchanalia.

    I think our enthusiasm for new plans is an expression of optimism that the future may bring progress and is worth investing in. As an American it's taken me about this long post-election to feel this way. I guess I'm getting my breath back. I've never needed a springtime more.

    Ann

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    1. I think you're right about plans as a manifestation of optimism -- seems downright crazy, some days in this political climate, to maintain anything of the sort, and yet. . . hard to resist a smidgin of hope when leaves unfurl that startlingly fresh green. . .

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  10. Spring always makes me want to "get organized." Especially since I retired. I think it's due in part because we have tended to take our longer trips in late winter. And I come home inspired to get on with our life.
    As I read what you wrote about floundering when you first retired, it reminds me of a post I wrote a while ago about when we actually become a grown-up. And a line I had read in an excellent article in the Atlantic by Julie Beck. Beck said that she always remembered what a professor told her class in university... that between the ages of 20 and 25 they should "expect to flail." That line blew me away because I had flailed so much in my twenties and always equated it with failing...instead of just growing up and developing.
    Soooo maybe we should say the same thing ...kind of... about retirement. We should expect to flounder...for a while. I mean for those of us who were lucky enough to have a job that interested and in a way consumed us... retirement is a huge identity adjustment. One that I found takes time to accept. And maybe that we should expect that. I also think that some people, who find retirement difficult at first, rush into taking on duties and even paid work that they may regret later. That plus...who feels justified complaining about retirement? That just provokes the "ohhh must be nice," comment which I hate. So we have to be judicious about who's listening when we share our feelings.
    So happy that things are falling into place for you...because you've had the added adjustment of moving (major move) as well as retirement. I'm familiar with the book Artist's Way. Love those books on creativity and writing and such. Helps focus our efforts. My favourite is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

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    1. I remember that post of yours which I liked very much. I did my flailing early and spectacularly enough that I settled very quickly into marriage and child-rearing when I got steadied -- and then that, of course, kept me busy enough that I didn't figure out "what I wanted to be when I grew up" until a rather ripe age (only finished my first degree at 41, only began teaching at 50-ish, was older than that when I finally got the doc.) With so much effort put into building that career identity, no wonder letting it go involves some floundering, so I'm glad some of us are talking about the challenges. At least I feel I have company -- and that I can follow in the path of those who went ahead of me, yourself included. (and you're right, that self-censoring in the face of anticipated envy, the "first world problems" response)

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  11. Frances, have you read the book - Steven King on Writing - it is brilliant. I can't read his books or watch his movies....but this book is a must read for any writer.

    Ali

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    1. I haven't read it, but have heard that and thank you for the reminder. (I don't read his stuff either, but because of genre, primarily -- I do understand he's a good writer and good about/on writing)

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  12. How lovely it has been for you to have this transitional time, even though I am sure that at times it has been difficult and unsettling, scattered even. I agree that we need times to flounder a bit, to float, to perhaps get a little lost in the forest, before finding ourselves firmly on a new path. Truly you have been making a huge leap in a very short time. I am looking forward to whatever comes next.

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    1. It has been lovely, sometimes difficultly lovely, but a lovely privilege nonetheless. I believe we do well to let our systems and schedules and surenesses be upset every once in a while. You would know about that. xo

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  13. An initial superficial read left me thinking you had sold the NEW apartment, on re-reading I get it! Lots of grist for the list maker in all these changes.....I have a weekly agenda/list book that is especially useful in seeing what I least want to do (since it goes over from week to week.....). Flailing may be seasonal for me, more flail prone doing transitional seasons, including of course transitional life seasons - I'm coming up to one now with retirement from my decade of part time work. Its a great pre-creative opportunity!

    ceci

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    1. Yes! I do seasonal flailing as well, and that was a pattern when I was still at the uni. The regular schedule of term lecturing would change to the more self-regulated schedule of exam times and the stacks of marking and then the even freer period of summer break when nonetheless research and prep for next term had to happen. . . .and then relaxing into the legitimate lulls. This retirement from part-time will be a very interesting transition for you, and I'm quite keen to hear about it. A great pre-creative opportunity, for sure!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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