Moving Forward

Listening to Neverwhere on BBC Radio 4. Tying a quilt. Taking quick breaks for Twitter and blog posts. Writing a drabble for a Prydain challenge on ff.net.

That’s my Sunday night. How’s yours?

This past week was a rough one. Lot of emotions stirred up by events happening in the world. You know how that goes? Most of the time, you’re aware of tragedies and injustices, and you feel sorrow, but it doesn’t affect you that much – it can’t, because you still have to live and work and love, and if you collapse under every weight, you simply can’t function. But then … then some days, it just all piles up, and suddenly it’s too much, and you just have to stop and weep for a little while, before you can pick yourself up and keep fighting the good fight.

This past week was a “stop and weep” week for me. But now I’m back on my feet, back to being able to enjoy simple pleasures, to delight in my family and the gifts God has given me, back to moving forward and shining light in a darkened world.

(And yes, I am aware that something as dark as Neverwhere is an odd listening choice when one is cheering up, but oh my, it is fascinating. The brilliance alone makes it a worthwhile listen.)

In happier news, I have been doing better at sticking with a schedule and getting things accomplished this past week! Slow and steady does it, not freaking out if I slip off schedule, and not caring if it’s more boring to follow a schedule than to go about life at my own whimsy.

Also, I made a raspberry cheesecake. YUM.

So, here’s to a better week this week than last. Here’s to carrying the light through the darkness no matter what.

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Disorganized

I am the least organized person I know.

I like things to be neat and organized and tidy and simple, but when I try to make them that way myself … chaos ensues.

(Curiously enough, when I was department manager at the hardware store, I did NOT have that problem. I ran one dept and assisted with two others, and kept all of them in STUNNINGLY organized condition, better than almost any of the others in the entire store. Which is odd. And the only time/place in my life where that has happened.)

Yesterday was my birthday, and my husband cleaned the kitchen for me after dinner. Except he didn’t just clean, he tidied and organized and threw things away and rearranged other things and picked up items that had been on the counters for so long I’d stopped even seeing them, and at the end of the night, I stood there thinking, “huh. I could have done any of this at any time, but it never even occurred to me. Why not?”

Part of my problem is that I’m scatter-brained. Just ask anyone who knows me. My parents used to joke that they always knew how I’d spent my day by following the trail of shoes, books, and teacups through the house. I just never even noticed I was leaving them behind! It’s even worse when I’m cleaning – I hop from one thing to another to another without ever finishing any task, ending the day by feeling exhausted and accomplishing nothing. I am really bad at time-management – I have a beautifully written schedule pinned on my fridge, and I never, ever manage to follow it. (In my defense, we haven’t had one week since October where all four of us have been healthy. It’s been a sick, sick winter, which makes it nearly impossible to stick to any kind of a schedule.) I always have marvelous, and even reasonable goals, and then I get derailed almost immediately.

Part of the problem is that there’s just SO MUCH that I want/need to be doing. Keep the house clean and running smoothly. Raise the kids. Teach the kids. Write. Self-publish. Sew. Cook all the meals (from scratch). Skate. Learn to draw so I can teach the kids. Study. Along with raising and teaching the kids, train them to become independent adults. LAUNDRY. And oh yeah, have a relationship with my husband and try to make time for friends as well. Not to mention make sure I get that bit of alone time each week so necessary for my introverted soul.

I know a lot of people manage to juggle all those things effortlessly. I’m still figuring it out, and dropping almost ALL the balls constantly in the process. I think I spend more time picking the balls off the ground than I do tossing them through the air!

Add to all that the very deep desire to NOT live a mundane life, to do more than just muddle along. One of my deepest fears is that when I die, what’s going on my tombstone is “Well, at least she tried.” This life is so short, so precious, I don’t want to spend it flustered and frustrated and frittering it away! I want to really live, to taste every moment. No, I’m not buying into the lie that says “you have to enjoy every minute of while your kids are small/while you are young/while whatever it is the speaker currently wants you to feel guilty about not savoring.” I’ve fallen down that pit before, and I won’t go back.

But neither do I want to, as I mentioned before, spend my life just muddling along, half-heartedly attempting many things without really enjoying or living anything.

So, any advice for this scatter-brained, introverted, disorganized, mummy-wife-and-mother-and-writer on how to stop wasting my time, and start making the most of my days?

Have at it in the comments!

Once Upon a Time, and Good vs Evil

Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite shows (I almost wrote “new” favorite shows, but since it is more than halfway through its second season, I can’t really call it new anymore, can I? I still think of NCIS:LA as new, though, and it’s in its fourth season. I guess it just takes me a really long time to get used to a show!). I am not quite as enamored of it as I was in its first season, but I still really enjoy it. I’d enjoy it more if all of the characters except, possibly, Gold and Granny, didn’t do really stupid things on a really regular basis, and then act shocked when said stupid decisions come back to haunt them, but even so. It’s a fun show to watch.

Last Sunday’s episode really got me thinking. (Ahead lie theme-spoilers, though I won’t be giving any details away. Still, stop reading if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know anything about it.)

*****

*****

*****

Still here? Right.

At the end of this episode, it looked like Evil had taken another giant leap forward toward defeating good. And Snow was sick of it. Tired of doing the right thing every time, and coming out poorer for it. Tired of always showing mercy and having it come back around to haunt her. Tired of always taking the high road, when it seemed only to hurt those she loved.

David tried to comfort her, but let’s face it, David is really good at hitting things and making noble-sounding proclamations, not so much at … well, anything else. So his comforting speech and meant-to-be-encouraging words fell flat. In fact, he was lucky, because if I’d been Snow, I would have decked him for his lame, cliched words. She just basically ignored him. Kind, kind Snow.

Here’s what he should have said:

“You are absolutely right. We have been fighting evil our entire lives, and every time we think we’ve won, it crops back up and steals our happy ending. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? We aren’t fighting for our own happy ending. We’re fighting for Emma’s happy ending, for Henry’s. If we are just fighting for ourselves, how are we any different? Regina wants her happy ending, and we want ours. The means we take to that end are different, but they’re both driven by selfish motivations.

“What makes us different, is that we aren’t just fighting for ourselves. We are fighting to make the world – both this world and our other home – better for everyone. Safer. We are fighting so our daughter and grandson can live in freedom, instead of in bondage to evil.

“And yes, I know that you are tired. It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to want to lay this burden down. It’s understandable that you feel it isn’t worth it. That’s why I’m here. I still believe. I’ll carry you through this period of doubt, and someday, when I’m the one struggling, you’ll carry me. That’s what we do for each other.”

I think sometimes, especially in fantasy, it’s almost easier to make Evil nuanced than Good. We’re been trained to go against the cliched “bad for the sake of being bad” guy, giving them all kinds of depth and interest, but in this era of anti-heroes, it can be hard to remember what it is that makes the true hero stand out.

I recently re-read Stephen Lawhead’s Taliesin, and while it isn’t the brilliant, gripping prose I remembered it being when I was eleven and enthralled by it all, parts of it did still stand out to me with a shining, brilliant light. The notion of true heroism being fighting against the dark even when you know it’s hopeless, even when you know you will lose, simply because it is the Right Thing, and because you have faith that eventually, even if you’re not there to see it, light will overcome the darkness, and you want to be a part, however small, of that light.

I’m interested to see where OUAT goes with this “Dark Snow” theme they’ve brought up. I hope they’ll use it as a chance to bring in some of these deeper motivations behind “being good.” Given their track record, I kind of doubt it, but I can hope, right?

Do you watch Once Upon a Time? Are there any TV shows that you do watch that cause you to ponder philosophical questions on a semi-regular basis? Do you think it’s harder to make a hero interesting than it is to make the villain sympathetic?

Overcoming Adversity Launch Day

It’s the Overcoming Adversity Anthology launch day!

Cover design by DR Cartwright, from a concept by Ella Wilson
Blurb:
A collection of seventy moving and uplifting original pieces – real life, flash fiction, and poetry – about battling against the odds and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. The contributors include Amazon bestselling authors Alex J. Cavanaugh and Kyra Lennon, and the cream of upcoming talent.

The anthology is part of a fundraising effort to send the editor’s stepson, Andrew McNaughton, to a specialist college in England. Andrew has cerebral palsy, and is a remarkable young man with a promising future. However, the free further education options offered in his own country of Scotland will not challenge him and allow him to progress. In order to access the education he deserves, Andrew will have to pay exorbitant fees, thus creating a situation of discrimination.

Help us get Andrew to college by buying a book that runs the full gamut of human emotions, ultimately leaving you inspired and glad to be alive. Whatever struggles you are going through, our sincere hope is that this book will help.

Purchase Links:

(Paperback coming soon)

Editor Bio: Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction. When not writing he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also co-running a campaign to get a dedicated specialist college built in Scotland. Visit him at http://nickwilford.blogspot.co.uk/.

~ * ~

It was such a privilege to be able to participate in this anthology. The poem I wrote, Memory, ended up being really special to me, and a chance to honor my grandparents. Thank you for this opportunity, Nick, and I hope it succeeds even beyond everyone’s wildest dreams!

Now, faithful blog readers, go forth and buy!