Inspired by our neighbors, Tom and Cheryl, who moved from California to Colorado a couple of weeks ago, my husband, Bruce, and I went on a de-cluttering bender. We vowed to get rid of everything that we wouldn’t want to take with us if we were to move. (Just to clarify: we’re not moving.) We cleared out storage units and closets, hauling the usable stuff to our tiny one-car garage. Last Saturday we held an “estate sale in the garage” and sold a bunch of stuff. Another bunch remains waiting for a home.
Some of the family “heirlooms” that have traveled with us for decades are on the chopping block. There’s a nice oak desk and a rocking chair that just don’t fit anywhere. And, the 19th Century maple chairs that my grandmother re-caned are too small for 21st Century bodies.
Fortunately, the nice folks who run the White Elephant Sale in Oakland will pick up these items and rest of the stuff, and the Oakland Museum will gain a small contribution.
Looking around our home, I still see TONS of clutter. Bruce and I have a different aesthetic when it comes to decorating. I think of myself as belonging to the less-is-more school while he appears to be of the more-is-more persuasion. However, truth be told, both of us have accumulated more than we need. Bruce’s collectibles are many. His hand-carved masks from Latin America, especially the old Guatemalan ones, are museum-quality. I admit to liking them; I even helped pick out a few on trips to Mexico.
In the midst of de-cluttering the house, I’ve been doing a little internal spring-cleaning, too. I’m not talking about a cleanse, although spring is a fine time to detox. This time, I’m talking about letting go of internal clutter. For 25 years, I defined myself in terms of my career. I was an account executive, a marketing manager, etc., etc. Then, for three years, I was a graduate student. Since then, I’ve struggled with my identity. I am a grandmother, wife, daughter, sister, friend. I knit; I sew; I garden; I cook. I am — dare I say it — retired. And yet, all of this is only part of the picture.
“Shavi” with Ruby, the newest member of the family
Who am I really? Like my knitting, I am a work in progress. When friends ask me what I’m doing now, I am learning to say, “I write.”
BLOG HOP: Women Writing
Thanks to Ana Hays McCracken, one of the women in the Wednesday Writers group, I am honored to join this Blog Hop that focuses on women writing. A blog hop is a little like a chain letter or relay race for bloggers. One person starts, then passes the torch to three more writers. Those three continue the chain, and it grows exponentially. Each of the bloggers in this Hop are answering the same four questions about writing.
What am I working on/writing?
I am working on going deeper. I have intentionally kept my writing-for-the-public-eye on the light-hearted side. At times, I reach back to my training in journalism and health in order to research and report the facts. Both are fine. And, now I’m moving into what is uncharted territory for me: sharing how I feel with my reader. I am working on several short pieces for a new series on my blog: Wellness Wednesday. I also started a longer piece in anticipation of a trip to Attean Lake in northwest Maine. In July, I will travel more than 3,000 miles to put my feet on the ground where my great-grandfather built cabins in the woods in the mid-1890s. There’s sure to be a story or two in that trip.
Attean Camp, Birch Island, near Jackman, Maine
How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?
My blog describes my journey as I learn to embrace my post-employment life. It is a combination of knitting anecdotes, health & wellness tips, travel photos, and cooking adventures. I write mostly memoir, describing an event that happened in my life that could have universal appeal. Despite my education in nutrition and stress management, I shy away from giving advice. Instead, I approach topics from the perspective of, “This is what worked for me. Maybe it will work for you, too.”
Why do I write what I do?
I write to figure things out. I write to explore my feelings. As others have written before me, I write to know who I am. At this moment in time, I write to help myself — and others — navigate the transition from middle age to a vibrant and vital old age.
How does my writing process work?
My process is simple: get the words down on paper. If I have a blank page, the words will come — eventually. I keep notebooks in the car, in my knitting bag, and on the bedside table. I capture my ideas quickly, before they have time to burst like soap bubbles and fade away. Following Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I write three pages in the morning — not every morning, admittedly. I get everything down in longhand, clearing my mind. Sometimes my writing resembles a giant “to do” list. Other times, a thought emerges that is worth keeping. Once a week or so, I spread out my scribbled pages on the dining room table. I circle the bits that I like and look for common themes. Sometimes a story emerges. I bring pieces to Elizabeth Fishel and the Wednesday Writers for feedback. The group’s suggestions and support have helped me find my voice.
Meet Next Week’s Writers
I am please to introduce three writers who will blog on Women Writing next week. Give them a read!
Lisa Beach works in online education and lifestyle consulting. She teaches for several colleges and universities online in the area of wellness and nutrition, and works with private clients who desire to improve their quality of life through addressing their lifestyle choices. She writes to share real wellness information that people can apply to their real lives.
Lisa’s work with clients, along with her writing, allows her to study people’s stories to find out how and why wellness can be made a priority. She bases her work on the idea that we live our lives in stories, and we evolve and improve our lives by hearing about and interacting with the stories of others.
Christine A. Krahling has been a reader and writer for as long as she can remember.
A self-professed “magazine junkie,” Christine is an award-winning writer, a blogger and former magazine editor. Her most recent essay, “Bloom Where You are Planted,” appears in the book, Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions as well as in The Shriver Report. Her article, “Seven Steps to a Successful Book Club” won an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest’s 2011 Writing Competition.
Christine has developed a presentation titled, “When a Child has Celiac Disease: A Guide for Educators and Healthcare Professionals” and is available for speaking engagements on this and other topics. Christine is also a book club facilitator and fundraiser. She lives with her family in Central New York.
Francie Low writes funny, witty posts about motherhood, fashion and frustrations on her blog shoezle.com, so named by her hubby as a polite nod to Francie’s passion for shoes. Shoezle was named in the Top 25 Blogs of Norcal in 2013. She’s the mother of two teen boys with yin and yang personalities and married to a cycling afficianado and anything-organic enthusiast–saving the family from unhealthiness. Francie was featured twice on KQED radio’s “With a Perspective” and written for Literary Mama.com and The Contra Costa Times. Francie was cast in the San Francisco 2014 Listen To Your Mother show. She loves anyone Francis/Frances, especially the new Pope Francis.