The theme of this blog is creative writing. Any writing on this blog by authors other than myself is by permission of the author. I've written many poems, short stories, novellas, novels, and more. I hope you will want to get to know me and, of course, I hope you will want to buy a book or two.
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Sunday, November 13, 2016
Growing old -- some thoughts
There is no doubt that I have reached the stage in my life where I am no longer able to say that I am growing old. I am old. And, yes, I feel blessed to be old.
I've known many wonderful people throughout my life who never had the opportunity to say I am old.
Contrary to the belief of many, being old is not a disease.
I know some people who are old who complain of feeling the cold. Sometimes I complain about the cold; the snow; the necessity for boots, scarves and mitts. But sometimes I love to go out into my back yard on a cold sunny day and just breathe in the fresh, life-giving, air. I feel cold? That's wonderful! I complain because I feel too hot? That's equally wonderful. I feel happy? Life is good. I feel sad? Life is good. I feel uplifted? Life is good. I feel disappointed? Life is good.
Life is good because I am feeling. I feel. I am.
At the stage of life that I have reached I am able to achieve some things that remained elusive in earlier years; too filled were they with responsibility. Yes, I continue to be responsible; but I am now able to let go. I am able to let go of material things; downsizing is a wonderful release. I am able to let go of people; something I thought I would never be able to do. But I am now able to love those who choose to love me. I am able to let go of those who choose not to love me. And that's okay. I am learning how to be like the title of my recent book. I am learning how to Simply BE.
Being old does not mean I am dependent, miserable, lonely, or of no use. Some people choose to be these things in their old age; some choose to be these things at an early age. My use of the word choose is deliberate. Choosing is not always a conscious act. Choosing is often unconscious but it is always possible to raise awareness in order to make conscious choices in life.
In my earlier years I devoted my time to many people, events, values, that I loved. But simultaneously in my earlier years I too often devoted my time to many people, events, values, that I didn't love but they were often those that I believed I needed to permit in my life because it was expected of me.
The expectations of others can be haunting; can be limiting; can be harmful. Even today I know there are those who have expectations of me. That is okay. They are welcome to their expectations. I no longer allow the expectations of others to interfere with those I have of myself. This is another gift I am able to give to myself now that I am old.
When I finally arrived at what is commonly termed retirement age, I took a good look around me and asked myself, okay; now what?
This is when I began to write creatively. Now eighteen books later, I still love to write creatively.
More recently, my beautiful dog, Ki, died. Grief overwhelmed me. I loved and missed him so much. I tried to write out my feelings but the words didn't want to come.
And then I remembered some good advice from my earlier training as a psychospiritual practitioner. Draw out your feelings! I can still remember those instructions well.
I carried my grief, my pain, my love, and my memories of Ki downstairs into the basement. I began to paint. My first painting was one of sky and hearts and the names of every pet I had ever had the privilege of loving; those of my own and those of my closest family members.
I poured my heart into this painting. And the feeling within me was a good one.
I decided I would paint something just for my "Ki"
And so I did.
This is where I started. An old woman who had spent her lifetime caring, typing, listening, encouraging the gifts of others picked up a paint brush and silently said, I am not intimidated. I will simply do my best.
And this is what I do. I accept the criticism of others. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't, but I have also come to know that I have no control over what another chooses to say. I know I am not a Van Gogh or a Picasso. What I am is someone who is enjoying the expression of who I am through the printed word and through my painting.
I wrote a book and I call it Simply BE. In this book I express that we don't have to be perfect at everything we do. We simply need to be who we are. That is a good thing to be. That is enough.
The picture on the cover of Simply BE is of my family of origin. My Mom and my Dad; my brothers Ray and Ken; my sisters Eleanor, Muriel, and Linda. And there I am, beside my mother with my arm around my baby sister. I am 12 years old in this photo.
And the background of this photo is the little woods behind my current house in Elliot Lake. This photo, so cleverly put together by my daughter, Susan,
beautifully unites my past and my present.
And with my past and my present, I am at peace. I am able to Simply Be.
By now I have painted a lot of pictures. I am running out of walls in my basement.
I have no training. I may have discovered a very tiny grain of natural talent but mostly I have discovered a challenge; a wonderful learning curve that is satisfying. Learning how to mix colours and playing with what turn out to be some very strange backgrounds that often get lost when the primary focus of the painting makes its debut. I paint the way I write and this is by following my beautiful mother's advice which was If you want something done, then simply begin. I still don't know how to draw a straight line and learning to paint fine lines is still a goal. When I write a story I never know how it is going to end. I follow the characters and they lead me where they want to go. When I paint I never know how it is going to turn out. Sometimes I try to do my rendition of a photo. My painting, in the end, never looks like the photo. I don't know if I will discover any talent but I have the desire and, for me, for now, this is enough. I am enjoying the adventure of creating.
I have since been told that by choosing oils, I have chosen the biggest challenge. I have since been told that by choosing to paint people, I have chosen the most difficult avenue of expression.
Leave it to me! Throughout my life I have always learned things the hard way and so it would seem that even now when I am old, I still do things the hard way. This, too, is okay. This way of being often contributes to a sense of humour which is sometimes difficult to find.
Two nights ago I had a dream; a real dream while I was sleeping. When I awakened I remembered that in my dream along with my books, I had one painting, the one painting that was maybe sort of Christmasy because at least it was a winter scene. I dreamed that this painting was on a table along with my books.
Knowing I have been painting pictures for only three months with no instruction, it was not an easy decision to take this painting along with me and to place it on my books table. But, as I have done in the past, I continue to trust my dreams. I believe they are, as Carl Jung believed, God's forgotten language.
My heart was so warm when strangers complimented the painting.
When one of these strangers actually purchased it, I felt like I was in heaven. I'm sure she must have thought I was crazy when I wanted to give her a big hug to thank her for her purchase.
And I do thank you, Pauline.
And I hope you will feel the love from this painting that now hangs in your home.
Yes, I am old. But I am not dead. Throughout my entire life I stated, I don't know how to draw a straight line. And it's true; I don't. But I have learned that crooked lines are more fun and more interesting than straight lines anyway so who cares!
The truth is that, surrounded by talented artists, as I was in my family, I felt intimidated; not good enough; not one who should ever pick up a paint brush. My job was to encourage others; that is what I believed and I can't remember a time when anyone disagreed with this core belief and encouraged me to make the effort.
In my family also are talented singers and musicians. I always felt like a bass in a soprano world. Yes, I could carry a tune but I felt I could do so as long as I didn't have to carry it too far. But a time came, and I believe the confidence came from the very fact of oldness, when I wrote the lyrics to a song; wrote the melody; and actually sang the song permitting others to hear it. With the help of a most talented, good friend who did encourage me, I posted on You Tube, my song titled Too Late.
I also wrote lyrics to two others songs. Listen to Love was recorded by the most talented singer/musician, Johnny Tyger.You can also hear this song on You Tube. I Followed My Heart to 108 has been recorded in Nashville by Kimberly Arnold. This has made me believe that, hey, maybe I can write poetry.
And so I got busy writing poems and put them all together in an anthology which I have titled Poetry From A to Z. In this book I have published my poems, the titles of which span the alphabet.
So, you see, one thing follows another if we choose to allow ourselves to be who we are.
My very first book, Sara, a Canadian Saga, I dedicated to my mother. The picture on the cover of my very first book is also one of my family of origin. In this cover picture I am the smallest girl who feels the loving hand of her mother on her shoulder.
Family has always meant everything to me. Family still means everything to me but now that I am old, there is a difference. I don't put myself on the back burner anymore. I don't apologize for being who I am. I don't want to displease anyone but to please is not my purpose; not a need; just not necessary anymore. I love those who love me. I am able to let go of those who want to let go of me. And it is okay.
This coming summer I will celebrate my tenth writing anniversary. During these ten years I grew old. Yes, I did. And that's okay too. During these ten years I have written many books; eighteen so far, and still writing. Of course I want people to buy my books. Every writer wants people to buy the results of their labour and I am no exception.
As I Simply Be, so do my books and so do my paintings. Some are better than others. It is all very subjective. Another's opinion is wonderful to hear; especially when it is a positive opinion. But my books and my paintings are what they are. At the time they were created I was doing my best. I never fail to feel thrilled when someone buys one of my books. I never fail to thank that person for buying because, in buying, they are expressing encouragement and support. For this I am always grateful.
When I began writing I had a wonderful publisher; Maggie Kirton of Wynterblue Publishing. She believed in me and my desire to write creatively. My earliest books were published by Mags. She knows I love her and she knows I am forever grateful.
But the time came when Wynterblue stopped for a rest. There I was, this old lady, who wanted to publish books but who had no publisher.
Again I had no training but only the desire. And so once again I taught myself. I taught myself how to format my stories and how to get them on-line so that hopefully others would buy them. I became a proud indie author.
There is not one person on this earth who knows when his time on this planet will end. I am one of the most fortunate ones. I have been allowed to grow old and I am allowed to enjoy being old. I am allowed to Simply BE.
When I first began self-publishing I knew nothing of the process. I certainly did not know how to add a back cover to a book. Three or four of my books have nothing on their back covers. That's okay. I learned. And now my books have information on their back covers.
Let me share with you what I have written on the back cover of Simply BE.
Sometimes we forget that we are born into this world as human beings.
We forget because too much of the time is spent as human do'ers.
We do this; we do that; and then we do some more.
Sometimes we become involved in doing so much we forget who we are.
Simply BE is a reminder to all of us that it is possible
You can also find me on Google Plus; Twitter; and Linked In, and I hope you do. This blog post has been sparked because one stranger, who I now know as Pauline, bought my painting. Pauline does not realize that by her purchase she made my dream come true. Yes, indeed, life is good. And life goes on.