I first wanted to wish all of the fathers, uncles, grandfathers, step-fathers, and fur-fathers a Happy Father’s Day! I hope today is a day where fathers are honored and have moments of relaxation.
This past week the idea of “being still” kept coming to mind. Reggie made me think of this early in the week. Sometimes Abby and Reggie will go on the stairs for a quick run up and down a flight. Occasionally, I’ll take Reggie on a “walk” up about five or six flights to give him more exercise and some quality time with me. He gets a small bite of a treat when he runs up each flight, so he’s come to love hanging out on the stairs.
Throughout the week I noticed all the cats in their moments of chillin’ and being quite comfortable with being still for a long period of time. I saw an adorable dog the other day stalking a squirrel. I watched this dog look like a statue for several minutes. He was all set on staring down that squirrel for as long as it took. (I wish I had a picture.)
Then, once again, I was reflecting on my time at the Bear River Writers’ Conference at Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake (check out last week’s blog). There are many reasons that I love Bear River, but one of the reasons that I think many of the participants love our time is our chance to be still. Being in nature, among fellow writers, and away from our busy lives allows us a few days to be still with our thoughts and our writing.
It was a somewhat crazy week for me as the end-of-year “stress” piled up; graduation, finals, finishing grades, cleaning and packing up the classroom, and the like. I finally realized that I needed to find moments in my day to be still. Whether it’s sitting down to reminisce about Bear River, or watching Reggie sit on the stairs for five minutes, it was so helpful to me to do something as simple as being still for a few moments. I hope we are all able to find a moment or two to “be still” and appreciate the world around us, as well as, the world within us. Now, if I could only figure out what Reggie is thinking when he’s sitting still!
Some of you may know that I was off last week to attend a writing conference. This is no ordinary conference. It’s a retreat, a chance to re-connect with nature, make new friends, and re-connect with old friends.
The Bear River Writers’ Conference first entered my life in 2015, and I was blown away by the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by like-minded, friendly people for five days. The conference takes place at the University of Michigan Alumni Association’s Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake. During the summer, Camp Michigania is host to Michigan Alums for weeks of family camp. The week before family camp starts, 100 writers and 10 authors/instructors invade the camp for several days of writing and camaraderie. After my first year at Bear River I would say, “It’s time for writing camp!”
This was my third year attending the Bear River Writers’ Conference. For the third year in a row I had a magical time and realized how much I missed the setting as soon as I drove around the bend and saw Walloon Lake. I love everything about it – the intense hours of writing, working hard with your fellow group members, the wonderful food in the dining hall (and soft serve ice cream), staying in a cabin, being disconnected from TV and internet most of the day, being in nature, and the list goes on. For the third year, I felt a little bit of pain in my heart as I left because I didn’t want to leave.
Upon my return home after the 6-hour drive, my cats greeted me with a lot of purring and meowing. I kept saying, “Did you guys miss me?” When they meowed in reply I was thinking they either said, “Yes! We missed you!” or “Hmm…not really…we just want you to feed us.” Well, even though I love going on little trips (and I absolutely love going to the Bear River Writers’ Conference), I also miss my cats when I’m away.
At this point, I’m carrying my positive energy I gained at Bear River this year with plans to return in 2018. It will probably hit me some time in April of 2018 how much I miss Bear River and I’ll start doing the countdown once again. I love the peace and serenity of Camp Michigania, and connecting with so many amazing writers. I’m sure all of my “cuddlers” have a place they love, too! Hopefully, this post has brought you to the place you love.
Allow me to say thank you and to take a minute to honor our nation’s military and our nation’s heroes. I’m especially honored to have my father, grandfather, and several aunts and uncles who served in the US military or served in war. I can’t thank my relatives enough for their service. I do think of them often, especially at times like Memorial Day.
While I don’t know any service dogs, I love seeing reports of the service dogs that served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Yes, I do get a little teary-eyed, but the stories of the soldier who are reunited with their service dogs are so touching. It’s so touching to see that the dogs are honored for their service. It also makes me want to learn a bit more about what they do while serving in the armed forces.
As a child, I also remember Memorial Day weekend as including a day when my mom was glued to the TV to watch the Indy 500. If we tried to ask her a question or tell her something that wasn’t even possible. We learned to not bother mom or join in on watching the race. As I got older, Memorial Day Weekend involved spending the weekend with my grandparents and still enjoying the Indy 500.
My cats may have moments of running around the apartment looking like the Indy cars racing around the track. As long as there are no big crashes, I’m okay with that. “Doggies and kitties…start your engines!”
Next weekend I’ll be at a writing conference in Michigan. I’ll take next Sunday off from the blog and will return on June 11th. I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day Weekend.
All week I’ve been hearing myself scold my high school students, “Don’t give me that look!” With our state’s high-stakes testing coming up in about 3 weeks, the pressure is on for test review, which isn’t the most interesting. I’ll admit that it hit me this week and I’m feeling the pressure for them to do well. I’ve tried to make the review process creative, but there’s only so much creativity when you’re talking test-prep. By the end of the week I just had to laugh inside when my students would roll their eyes at me. I feel ya’! These tests make my eyes roll, too.
Tuesday evening Otis was kind of messing with Striker. I came around the corner to see what the fuss was about and I saw Otis half-meowing and half-hissing at Strike. (I guess Striker was in his space.) When I said something to Otis, I swear he gave me a “look” with his gorgeous eyes. A few days later Abby kept giving me a look, but I never figured out what she was saying. The only thing I could think of was that she wondered why I wasn’t giving her a ton of attention.
Do you have a certain look you give people or in certain situation? I’ve been told that I have a certain look on my face when I get annoyed. I wish I could see what it looks like, because I really don’t realize I’m doing it. I do know that I wear my emotions on my sleeve, but I’m not always aware of my various looks.
I’m excited about the week ahead. I’ll be attending the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute with a fellow writing friend. Last year this conference inspired me to start this blog and offered some great ideas for my writing, in general. I imagine that my look all next weekend will be of joy. Here’s to a week of giving and getting good looks!
First of all, sorry for all the glitches the last few blog posts. I can’t seem to figure out how to return to the blog posting when I see the date and time. It looks like I’ll need to do some WordPress homework this. week.
Last week I talked about Reggie’s incessant meowing at the door, and his intense desire to be in the hallway. I think I may have uncovered a few things that were going on in his head.
The main reason I think that Reggie was bothered for about a week was the industrial fan that was in our hallway. Apparently, there was a link from a bathroom on the floor above us and the fan was needed to prevent any mold from forming in the wall. The fan was going 24/7 for about a week. The noise stopped mid-week some time. I think someone just unplugged the fan because it wasn’t picked up from the contractors until Friday. We went into the hall, Reggie sniffed around for a good five minutes, and seemed a little more settled after that. It was disturbing for him to have “his hallway” messed up by the giant red monster.
The other reason is there seems to be a lot of activity in recent weeks in the hallway. Maybe I’ve been more in-tune to the noise in the hall lately because of Reggie, but I guess I’ve noticed more voices, knocks on doors, and people coming in and out. Whatever the case, Reggie loves visitors and loves to get attention from anyone in the hall (including the pizza man!). I think he felt left out being on the wrong side of the door with so much activity happening in the hallway. So, like I said, I’ve appeased him and have taken the time to go in the hallway more.
As I was trying to help figure out Reggie’s distress, I have also been trying to figure out my own beginning-of-the-year distress. I’ve noticed that I haven’t felt myself lately. Perhaps there’s something in my space, my own red monster, but I don’t have the power to move it. Or, perhaps there is a lot of activity and I’m just trying to get my thoughts straight at the beginning of the year. It’s already the end of January and I feel like I still haven’t fully committed to my goals for 2017. Once I finally realized that I’m having my own “moment,” I was able to see Reggie’s bit of stress, as well.
So, we still haven’t solved the question, Are you going out or staying in? But, at least we have identified the question (and gotten rid of the noisy red monster).
We’re already two weeks into 2017, so I hope the year is off to a good start for everyone. I also hope everyone had some quality “cuddle time” over the holidays – time to relax, time with family, time with your fur babies (or a friend’s fur baby), or time to do whatever you wanted.
I entered 2017 cuddling with the cats and Abby looking shocked when I yelled, “Happy New Year!” I also had a shocked look on my face, but that was because of Mariah Carey’s debacle on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve show. (That’s a post for a different day.)
I intended to send the first 2017 post from Disney World last week as I ran in my second Dopey Challenge. That’s the challenge accepted by about 10,000 runners to complete the 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and full marathon over the course of four days. In addition to the running, my sister and I spent a few days walking around the parks at Disney World, which totaled about another 26+ miles. Needless to say, we were tired!
If you can believe it, there is something “cuddly” about Mickey Mouse. One of the benefits of running in a Disney race is that they have various Disney characters along the race course. Where else can you go for a run and take a picture with Goofy, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse dressed up in patriotic gear? Or, where can you stop for a quick picture with the Genie from Aladdin and feel like you do have the power of Genie in your corner? Seeing a life size version of Winnie the Pooh & Tigger brought back a whirlwind of childhood memories. From being so proud that Winnie the Pooh was my favorite character, to loving the stuffed Winnie the Pooh that I’m sure my grandparents gave me (along with a few Winnie the Pooh books). The memories of Disney characters can’t help but bring a smile to your heart.
Disney knows how to make you feel like all of your troubles are somewhere pretty far away, as you focus on the “magic” and the possibilities of your dreams. What a great feeling of comfort! Who knows how this year will unfold. Who knows what challenges or joys will come our way. I do hope that we can all remind each other of the hope and possibility of the days to come…we just have to be ready for it. If Walt Disney can believe, I can believe, too.
We’re entering that time of year when friends and families will get together, decorations will adorn the house, and shopping will seem endless. I love this time of year and the memories of Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. I do hope everyone is able to soak in the good moments this time of year brings.
One reason November has been an interesting month for me is that I’m participating in the National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit that focuses on writing programs, and has special events for November’s National Novel Writing Month. I finally decided to take on the challenge! There have been days that I’ve said to myself, “Ugh…I’d rather run a marathon right now.” And, there have been some writing sessions when the words were just flowing through my fingers (thank goodness). The goal is to get to 50,000 words by November 30th , which I must admit seems tough to reach at this point.
The countless hours spent writing (and staring at the computer) have been a challenge for my cats. Striker hasn’t had much lap time, and probably secretly hates my laptop. Abby hasn’t had as many cat dancer toy breaks. And, Otis and Reggie just get the quick pats on the head when I’m intently working.
One day I noticed Abby sitting on the purple chair with a look on her face like, “Sigh…all this work you’re doing is making me tired.” A little later that evening my sister sent a text with a picture of her cat exhausted from all the knitting my sister was doing.
Abby fell asleep soon after snapping this picture. She got sleepy watching me write.
Galaxie was exhausted watching my sister knit and knit and…zzzz….
I also had this image of two of my grandparents’ dogs sitting in the field to watch my grandpa walk his 2 miles on the path from the house to the woods. The dogs were so tired watching grandpa get his walk in each day. It’s exhausting for our pets to watch us work!
Whatever your “work” is in the coming week, I definitely hope you have time to rest! Take a page from our fur babies…they will tell you in a heartbeat to get comfortable on the couch…and cuddle!