Sleeping For England Or Taking A Break?

IMG_0141

I would not want you to think that I have been sleeping my life away during my absence from my blog, but the last year or so has certainly been one with major blank spaces with regard to blogging, writing in general, and to some extent, my photography.

This photo of me napping under the MacKenzie plaid (one of my family lines) was taken last week after being in the US for two months. I don’t usually suffer from jet lag when flying back to the UK from my family home in Atlanta, but I have enjoyed a short, early evening nap most days since being met by my husband, John at Heathrow last Wednesday.

I have never been a big sleeper. Five hours a night is my normal, but over the past 18 months my normal has been way off.

I’m the sort who tends to tough things out, pushing myself to get things done even if the activity seems overwhelming and when I fall short or I’m disappointed in the outcome, I have trouble letting it go.

The last 18 months have been a lesson in letting go.

After writing over 600 blog posts, I kind of lost my drive (no pun intended) after our near head-on collision with a drunk driver in Wales. I’ve had increasing problems with my neck and hands since the accident which has affected my ability to do normal activities without numbness and pain. What was supposed to get better with time has not and my GP has ordered an MRI to see if something needs sorting in my neck.

Added to that, a shocking revelation about someone who had been our friend and neighbor sent me right round the bend about 8 months ago which made us briefly consider leaving the village we call home. The two events together made me want to withdraw from a lot of things I had enjoyed and even easy interactions became an effort.

Finally, I’ve hit a wall where I have grown tired of filtering certain aspects of my story but have not been able to figure out how to say what needs to be said without freaking out some of the people I love.

I know I have an amazing life so please don’t think I am ungrateful or having a big moan, I just wanted to give friends and readers who may have wondered, a little explanation.

I don’t have answers to most of what I have mentioned, but I am going to get off the couch and see where some forward movement takes me.

If you’re still reading GOTJ after my time away, please drop me a comment and say hello.

Enter Spring – Write & Release

Blackbird Egg - Elizabeth Harper

If you were to peek behind the curtain at GOTJ, you would see more than a few potential posts that read, <no title> Draft.

Some have photos, some don’t, a few are complete and ready to publish needing only a last read-through first. But given what has been happening in the world over the last month or so, my posts seemed like an uninteresting waste of your time and mine. So I let them sit.

It is not the first time I’ve done this … taken an impromptu sabbatical where I have withdrawn into reading while neglecting my writing.

Unfinished potential some might call it.

A friend asked me yesterday how my book was coming along and I while I wanted to say which one, I just said simply, ‘ It’s not. ‘

‘ Oh,’  he said, as he shook his head slowly, ‘ I thought you would be one of the ones to do it. ‘

‘ Well I’m not dead yet! ‘ I said, with a sharper tone than intended.

I tried to explain, but it just sounded like excuses … the car accident, work, a bad case of the blues.

Inside I was thinking … other people get it done despite having full lives, what is wrong with me?

Perfectionism will be my undoing if I let it.

Write and release.

 

Run On Thoughts And Other Stuff

Since I mention run on thoughts in my title, I thought I might include a wild-eyed self-portrait taken in the wee hours on July 4th just before leaving to run what’s billed as ‘The largest 10K in the world.’ Truth told there has been a distinct lack of picture taking in my life over the last few months along with my barely here online presence so this photo is one of only a few recent ones I can share with you.

Both shortages are atypical behavior for me and as you might expect there are a series of reasons why I’ve neglected my normal routines. I’ve had to develop some new ones that have tested me in ways I would like to have avoided, but provided some unexpected lessons along the way. I guess I might have to begrudgingly add that some of these lessens have turned out to be ‘gifts’ in my continued journey.

I’ll be saying more over the next few days, but I’m short on time and long on errands today. My friend David has gone off to Italy and left me the kind use of his car while he’s away so I’m running around taking care of a list that seems to grow longer rather than shorter even as I cross things off as completed.

David, along with my well-traveled friend Carla, have both saved me from a no-car existence (another chapter in the story) while I’ve been here, graciously offering their cars for me to drive more than a few times while they been away this summer.

I also wanted to thank you for all of your kind comments and support on my last post. I am over the moon to have this long stay in my other ‘home’ coming to an end. It’s funny how a wait of few weeks can feel like it will take forever to get here, but also like it’s too short a time to get all the last-minute little things done before I go. I’ve been in the US since April 22 and will mark about 3.5 months away from John when I board the plane to return.

Before now, seven weeks had been our longest separation occurring in 2008 during our first year together. Thank goodness for the internet and Skype. At least we’ve been able to talk a few times a day and send each other things through email. I can’t imagine if we’d only had regular mail to depend on to stay connected. I wonder how couples do this over and over when forced to due to jobs and other circumstances. Thankfully mine will soon be at an end.

I’ll be back to share more later … I’ve got to run on now and cross a bit more off my list.

A Story To Share – Not Just Mine, But Yours

If what I say resonates with you, it is merely because we are both branches on the same tree. ~ W. B. Yeats

I sometimes wonder about the people who visit me here without saying hello. I see them in my sitereader and imagine them reading over coffee or sharing something they’ve found on my blog with someone else in their lives the way I do myself when I find a blogger whose posts resonate with me.

If you are one of the silent, won’t you say hello today and tell me something about yourself. Simple or complex one, I’d like to know more about you.

If you are feeling brave, you might share a dream you have when you are alone in your thoughts or perhaps a secret no one knows about you.

If that makes you feel too exposed, you might tell me which of my earlier posts resonated with you most and why.

Even if you comment regularly, you can share something new. And because it’s often said that there are gifts in being heard, I am going to offer one more.

Using a random number generator to choose a comment, I’ll use something you say in yours to create a mini short story for you.

Comment before Wednesday ends and I’ll choose the winner at 8:00 am (UK time) on Thursday, and post your story this Friday.

 

UK Census 2011, Clues For The Future

It’s census time here and all across the UK, people are either filling out forms on paper or adding their details online. John and I did both. He’s saving the paper copy with the family bible and some other documents providing an easy paper trail for future generations who might be interested in looking back at their family history.

Since I filled out my own details in the section for ‘ Person 2 ‘ in the house on March 27, 2011, it was interesting to see my American side showing itself as I started off by putting an x in boxes instead of tick mark as they call a check mark here. I’m afraid I did not read the directions as is my way and habit took over. (click on the highlighted area for a photo of us from my first visit)

It’s kind of funny to think about how different things such as blogging will make tracking an ancestor easier in the future. There is likely to be a record of my 400 posts as of today on this blog and the 82 other posts found on my first GOTJ blog.

If I want to know more about my family history, I have to search through old census records like this one from June 19, 1900. My mother complied two binders with loads of family details, but hit some sort of dead end when it came to my great-grandmother on her maternal side. I did a little snooping last night by going to Family Search, a free information site in the US to look for my great-grandmother and some of her immediate family. (Click twice to enlarge any photo)

Here you can see Bessie L. (Lee) Hood was 19 and still at home on June 19, 1900 when the census was taken and you can see her mother, Cornelia was slightly older than her father, John. I could also tell what they did for a living and that they lived in Sparta, a detail that could be helpful in tracking back in time for more clues.

The 2011 UK Census results will not be released until 100 years from now to protect the privacy of people while they are living. As that will be 150 years after my date of birth, I expect it will be my great-great grandchildren (if there are any ) who will look over the census records and say, ” Look there’s where great-great-grandma Elizabeth Harper followed her heart to the UK, marrying a Winchurch and becoming the first in the family to have a dual citizenship. ”  Then one will likely turn to the other with a slightly superior look and say, ” I knew that already, because I read her blog. “

I had to add that last sentence about reading the blog as it’s become a bit of a joke with me. When topics come up in passing about local happenings and someone says they hadn’t heard whatever we happen to be discussing, I say ,” You mean you didn’t know that? ” Which I follow up with,” You would … if you read my blog! “

 

One Step At A Time

The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…

one step at a time.

~ Joe Girard

My sister Margaret gets the credit for the photo of me climbing the 280 steps to the top inside the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I thought this photograph was a good one to use in a thank you to all of the readers and friends who took time to leave a supportive message with regard to my writing and ever so slight disappointment over receiving a polite  ” not interested ” response from the newspaper I queried recently.

I have found such fine support for the writing I do here and I am never sure I let you know how much it is appreciated. Mary from A Breath of Fresh Air left me a very kind comment yesterday about writing a book, in which she said she that she would not hesitate to gift a collection of stories taken from my blog to her friends. It was just the lift I needed yesterday to pick up my pace mentally and refocus on the steps before me.

Thanks again to all who visit here at Gifts Of The Journey and thanks for your support.

The Big Countdown Begins – Ten

It may seem a bit self-indulgent to announce to the world that I have a big birthday fast approaching but turning fifty seems as if it should have some special attention paid to it. I have no clear idea of what I will be saying over the next nine days leading up to my birthday, but I plan to post a bit of something that will be quite shamelessly, all about me. That’s right, I will be posting daily right up to my birthday on September 10. I have not planned a thing in terms of topic and will write whatever comes to mind which can be my favorite kind writing and might lead to some interesting insights.

Some people enjoy having big parties to celebrate special birthdays, but I actually tend to feel a bit shy and out of place when I’m the absolute center of attention so I am pleased to be making memories with a smaller gathering of people who care about me. Can two (John and my sister Margaret) be considered a gathering?

After a detailed examination of my accomplishments over the last year, I find that some of my goals for forty-nine have not been met. I must confess that not one thing I’ve written in my forty-ninth year has gone out the door electronically or otherwise in search of a publisher. I am not sure why I have dragged my feet so badly when this has been at the top of my list for so long.

I have watched as other bloggers and writers have found their footing while juggling huge responsibilities and managed to publish while I write and research and think too much about the best way to find an audience for my work. I don’t feel jealous about their success just a bit disappointed in myself for not getting more done by now.

Watching others seems to be a life long habit with me and I tend to take a bit longer to find my footing once I’ve figured out the steps. In the photograph above, my fourteen year-old self is on the far right looking uncertain about what the group is doing or how I might join in.

I still feel like that fourteen year-old sometimes … uncertain about doing things just right even though I know now after almost fifty years of living that movement in any direction is sometimes all you need.