It’s Time

I’ve been considering signing off of Facebook for several months now, for a variety of reasons. This has been a tough decision because it’s been my lifeline to friends and family since sometime in 2008.

In the beginning, it was great to see pictures, share memories and reconnect to people I hadn’t heard from, sometimes for decades.

A short scroll would catch me up with what was going on in the lives of dozens of new and old friends. I loved sharing pictures of my life, too–pictures that have now become a history of the last 12 years, from marriage to divorce and marriage again, to book publications, to places traveled, to grandchildren.

I will miss all of that.

But what I won’t miss is the amount of time it took away from other things I could and should be doing. (Note my haiku on the clock photo above!)

Most of all, I won’t miss the divisiveness I’ve seen over the last few years, and, the inability to share an opinion without potentially inspiring defensiveness and sometimes vitriol, just because I have a different opinion.

I won’t miss seeing people I love and respect sharing fake news and fake memes, especially when I don’t have the heart, the energy, or the courage (depending on who posted it!) to point out its falsity. Sometimes we are better off not knowing every single little opinion people have about things–they may not be things we want to know, or even should know. Yet, with Facebook, we spill our feelings about everything.

I did it myself after the election. Although I felt some empathy for people who voted for Trump (I remember how I felt four years ago when the candidate I didn’t vote for won the election), I slipped and made a comment about “being glad we turned away from a cliff.”

I didn’t mean to offend Trump supporters, though will admit my comment may have been poorly timed. At any rate, someone I care about took offense.

I realized then that tensions continue to be high, and who knows how long it will continue. With Facebook’s algorithms that cater to our need to be part of our tribes, it’s likely to continue indefinitely. In that way, I think the negatives of Facebook far outweigh the positives.

The things that made Facebook great will still be there. I’ll still make memories, even if I don’t share the pictures. I’ll still have friendships–true friendships–via email, phone calls, Zoom meetups, and EVEN in-person get-togethers.

I’ll continue to write about life, opinions, writing, etc. on my blog, and I invite you to visit. If you’d like to stay in touch, feel free to use my “Contact” page, and I’ll send you my email address.

Love to all my Facebook friends and family. I’ll peek in from time-to-time to catch up on all of your lives, because I know I’ll miss you.

But I won’t miss Facebook. ❤

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One Question – With Guest, Linda Apple

Welcome to Episode 2 of my ever-changing series, “One Question.” My guest this month is my very good friend, Linda Apple, author of BOWWOW! Book of Winston’s Words of Wisdom, her latest book.

Linda and I chatted about writing and life, and as always, we had a good time. (A few sips of wine for me and bourbon for Linda probably didn’t hurt, but trust me, it was only a few sips!) So, I think you’ll enjoy getting to know a little about Linda and the background on her latest book.

We all have busy lives. If you don’t have time to sit down for a 30-minute interview, I’ve split this episode into three different segments:

“One Question” starts at 3:14

“A Reading” starts at 8:52

“After Show” starts at 18:48

After you watch the interview, head over to Amazon for a copy of BOWWOW! Book of Winston’s Words of Wisdom. It’s a fun book for children and adults with lessons from the wise Scottish Terrier, Winston!

By the way, Winston even has his own website:

www.winstonswisdom.com

If you’d like to know more about Linda and her other books, visit her website at:

www.lindaapple.com

Posted in children's books, dogs, One Question, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

One Question – My Experiment

Recently, after a couple of Zoom conversations with my friend, Kathleen Rodgers, I thought it might be fun to record conversations with author friends about their thoughts on writing and their recent work or novels. (SEE OUR “CHAT” BELOW!)

After weeks of thinking about it and trying to find a good time, I finally jumped in and interviewed Kathy about her latest novel, The Flying Cutterbucks.

The conversation was intended to be just that–a conversation, and not an overly formatted interview. This made it both exciting and scary.  Though I did have a couple of questions in mind to ask, Kathy didn’t have a heads up about what I would be asking.  I think you’ll see in the video, it really was spontaneous–especially by the fact I didn’t even have a title for the “episode” yet. But we had fun, and hopefully, viewers will learn a little bit about Kathy, her novel and her writing process.

Though we had intended to limit this episode to 15 minutes, thinking many people may not have the time to watch anything longer, as often happens when we talk, one topic begat another, and we talked on and on. Next time, perhaps I’ll set a timer, a proverbial hook to pull the performers off the stage. 🙂

This little challenge of “one topic begetting another” also led me to ask more than “One Question,” which is why I edited my title page to add, “or two, or three, or four…”

Obviously, I have some work to do as an interviewer.

So, I hope you’ll forgive my lack of polish and precision, and instead, will enjoy being a “fly on the wall” of my conversation with my very talented author friend!

Feel free to leave your comments about the video, including any critique. I’m always open to new ideas!

Thank you for watching!

For more information on Kathleen M. Rodgers and her books, please visit her website at:

www.kathleenmrodgers.com

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Stay tuned! Next up in October, my “chat” with author friend, Linda Apple about her new book, Bowwow! Book of Winston’s Words of Wisdom.

 

Posted in author, Interview, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Escaping the Doldrums

I have to admit, weekends aren’t what they used to be. In the past, they were something to look forward to–outings with family or friends, movies, shopping . . . without a mask. But mostly, we looked forward to family dinners–especially those with the grandkids.

But this past Sunday evening, as I prepared dinner for Steve and me, our house felt hollow and I found myself looking forward to Monday, when I ‘d return to work (though I’m mostly still working from home,) when at last, my mind would be occupied by things other than what I miss.

That afternoon, Steve and I took a short trip out of the city, an escape from the doldrums. We visited a little state park called Cedar Hill.

The morning was beautiful–sunny and touched with fall’s brisk approach. The cool breeze, the warmth of the sun, Steve and Obi–all perfect companions as I meandered through grasslands and wooded areas.

The second best part of such long walks (the best part is being out in nature) is the talks Steve and I have along the way. On Sunday’s walk, we talked about missing the grandkids, how different last year was from this year, possible plans for the future, how we can move toward those plans, and what we can do to make the loss we feel now a more positive transition.

After about an hour on the trail, we found a bench.

“Do you want to sit here and write?” I asked. It’s become a tradition for us to stop and write somewhere along the paths we walk.

“Sure,” Steve replied.

Usually, we write a haiku, or two or three. Here are a couple of mine:

crows dot a blue sky
so far from the madding crowd
but footsteps approach

on this nature trail
I’m social distancing from
social media

But on Sunday’s walk, we seemed to need more than haiku. We needed some silliness. So, we wrote some silly sentences. This is another “game” we sometimes like to play–simply writing anything that comes to mind–the sillier, the better.

Here’s what I wrote: (Forgive the silliness.) 🙂

The gravel beneath my feet looks a lot like oatmeal I ate this morning, light tan in color–“oatmealish”–its pebbles like lumps of oats all clumped together. At two, I might have put a handful in my mouth, but 60 years later, I think not.

Obi’s blonde fur glistens in the sunlight, rather like I imagine Steve must have thought his first love’s hair glistened while, on an afternoon picnic, he pondered his first kiss.

While we walked, I told Steve how grateful I am that I have someone who understands my sadness about the grandkids moving away, someone with whom I can share my feelings, knowing he not only understands, but feels them, too.

I didn’t say it then, but feel it now as I write this blog post: I’m also grateful we both find pleasure in words. On Sunday, words and nature helped us escape the doldrums.

Posted in Family, Life, love, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Ineffability of a Hug

BEHIND THE SCENES:

SETTING: This morning, 6:30. Jan is sitting at her computer. Steve walks in with a cup of coffee.

STEVE: Are you going to walk this morning?

JAN: No, I’m going to work on a blog.

STEVE (Happy to know she’s writing): What are you going to write about?

JAN: “The Ineffability of a Hug.”

STEVE: Ohhh…what are you going to say?

JAN (after a slight pause): I don’t want to talk about it, because I’ll cry. That’s why I just want to get it all written in words.

STEVE (walks out of the room, sipping his coffee): Okay.

 

I wrote that little scene to “show” the emotions behind my thoughts on hugs. Because to put it into words will be difficult–ineffable.

This past weekend, Tommy and Allie stayed with Steve and me while Adam and Emily went to Cleveland to look for a house. As you might imagine, the weekend was filled with joy, sadness, a few meltdowns (admittedly by each and every one of us at one point or another) and lots of memories.

But, I managed to hold back the tears through most of it, torn between whether it’s a good thing to let Tommy and Allie know how much I’ll miss them, or whether it would scare them to see Grandma cry.

The only time my eyes burned so hot, my lump in my throat got so big and my eyes went from watering to brimming and overflowing were those times that Allie crawled into my lap, often saying, “I love you, Grandma.”

Just typing the words brings tears back to my eyes.

As I felt her head pressed against my chest, as I buried my nose in the scent of her hair, as I felt the weight of her little body pressed against mine, a flood of thoughts and memories filled me up and carried me away to the past and future.

When my children were small, and especially if I was experiencing some sort of challenge, like a day full of tantrums, or a night full of wakings, I remember holding them and rocking them, their heads pressed against my chest. I wondered if they could hear my heartbeat, and if it might comfort them.

But most of all, I remember telling myself it would all be over too quickly, and that even though I was tired and even though their crying might have interrupted sleep and I had to be up for work early in the morning, someday I would miss those hugs.

I imagined myself into the future, at a time when I truly did miss their childhood and their hugs. From that future, I imagined transporting myself back in time so that I could be with them as children again, feeling their little bodies, their unconditional love, smelling the scent of them, and listening to the sound of their breaths become rhythmic as they fell asleep.

So, as I hug any of my four grandchildren now, I’m back to the far, far future. Farther than I’d ever imagined as I used to hug my little kids.

Now, the brevity of childhood is no longer in my imagination. I know it all too well, which makes the hugs even more precious and dear.

Last night, I had a dream. It started out with a large group of people sitting on either side of long tables. We were to choose to sit across from a person whose story we wanted to know.

I suspect the dream had to do with the loss I’ve felt about the isolation of this pandemic–that it’s been so long since I’ve been able to sit across the table from someone and just talk.

As I sat, I began to talk to someone about sailing to Tortola. I was excited about the conversation, because I’ve been to Tortola twice, and I knew we’d have adventures to share.

But then, Allie came up to me and asked to sit in my lap. She crawled up and I wrapped my arms around her. As I felt her body drift to sleep, the conversations around me softened and the people began to blur, until all that was left to the dream was the hug.

Ineffable.

Posted in Family, Life, love, nostalgia | Tagged , | 7 Comments