Visit me at www.bookbirthing.wordpress.com to see what I’ve been up to!

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This is a photo that I took on Ellis Island, the portal through which almost all immigrants were processed as they came to America. It seems very hopeful to me, as the goal is in sight, but still: you have to cross an expanse of water to reach your final destination.

That has been my experience for the last three years; although this blog has been mostly silent, it’s been for good reason. I have finally reached the other side of a lifelong goal, which is writing, completing, and then pitching my own book!

My book is about vocational transitions and grieving (in short: vocational grieving), a process that most of us can relate to. It’s that awkward transition between a known country and an unknown one; that expanse between “the devil you know and the devil you don’t”; that chasm between what you had wished for and what you actually ended up with. About Walking a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes: An Introduction to Vocational Grieving, Recovery and Transition.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing 48 ordinary (and extraordinary!) American workers, some of which are immigrant university students. 48 distinct, unique portraits of people from diverse backgrounds: male or female, married or single or celibate clergy, ex-priests and university professors, stay at home parents and blue collar and white collar workers, small business owners and entrepreneurs; Christians, atheists, agnostics. Each describes their journey to their dream jobs (or good-enough jobs) and back again, in their own voices and reflecting their own values, describing their awkward transitions, their triumphs, their tribulations, and lessons learned.

This is, in many ways, my dream job. To give voice to those who have suffered in silence, who have sacrificed for their families and their dreams, who have learned things the hard way and sometimes, through tremendous suffering. To observe the quiet dignity and honor with which people handle transition stress, and how their support systems loved them into, through, and around these experiences.

Because none of us has done this alone! Not even me.

Kudos to my loving and supportive husband, my patient and understanding children, and every friend who believed in me and supported my craft. Creativity is the language of the spirit, and every person who bolstered me while I wrote this book: I will be forever grateful to you!

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This. is Me.

Becky ziplining

This. is Me.

I ain’t necessarily skinny, or perfect, or predictable.

I have my flaws, and  Oh! they are many, and I can name them all.

I am a survivor of terrible things, but also a thriver –

I want new, different, and scary, all outside these walls.

I offer myself, unreservedly, to those who will care to listen,

Whether tiny, or medium, or tall tall tall.

My hero is Joan of Arc, because tho’ she did end on a burning stake,

She didn’t go quietly, or actually – at all.

Her energy was transformed to spirit and became legend and large,

And she forged a path and answered His call.

So when I am a ghost and my visage is faded from your view,

I want my legacy to be “CANNON BALLLLLLL!”

 

 

 

New Year’s Conundrum

It seems that I am only able to do life improvement in one arena at a time:.if my weight loss/nutrition is going well, keeping up with editing my book falls behind. If I am very self-disciplined with my writing and editing, my physical self-care falls behind. Let’s not even wonder how my spiritual reading and discipline fluctuates as my stress or home responsibilities escalate!

I am blissfully envious of seemingly  balanced people…I am blissfully unaware of the work/scheduling/ accountability required to pull that off on a regular basis. I settle sometimes for a hippie mentality of “all things come in their time”, because it excuses my temporary ambivalence or apathy.

I do best when I follow a structured regimen of daily, weekly, and monthly plans that cover all the bases important to me: spirituality, marriage, parenting, physical self-care, writing and recreation. Things like volunteering and church involvement have their place, but after my family’s needs (and my own) are met.

Here’s to a new start, 2017! And a new plan for all the areas of life 🙂

Check out my new blog, From Conception to Birth, also on WordPress!

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Shesabadmother has been pretty quiet, mostly because I am writing a book on vocational transitions!
Check out my book blog, From Conception to Birth, on WordPress. You can also reach it by going to http://www.bookbirthing.wordpress.com
Let me know what you think! And I am looking for additional interview subjects, especially minorities, gay or lesbian folks, and atheists or agnostics (to better reflect the general population). Contact me via the other blog…peace to you!

CS Lewis far better things

This last year has been a whirlwind of medical issues and disappointments, but it has also been very fruitful in the writing department!  I have made significant strides in the construction and editing of my book on vocational transitions; secured more interviews for the book, did (and re-did!) structure and practical issues, and generally, paid more attention to my book than I did to my blog.

I have spent much time trying to neutrally look at how I perceive the world, my past, my circumstances, and the larger issue of fairness. To try to figure out whether pursuing fairness and justice in life circumstances is worth the cost that you pay in the end.

I guess I have discovered this: that the answer is different for everybody. There are some battles worth fighting, and others that are destructive. There is more strife to be found in the pursuit of justice in some cases, than in others. So if I am truly seeking peace, I must face an unfair (or toxic) situation, assess it and then either move on or fix it.

If I stand at a blank wall, shaking my fist at it, it will neither move nor respond.

If I stand at a wall long enough to see a door through which I can travel, that is progress.

I wish that I were wise enough to immediately discern the difference! But alas: I am not.

In the last nine months, I have also discovered this: that an intellect in motion tends to stay in motion, and one at rest tends to begin to softly snore.

The more I write, the better I write, the better I feel, the more I write.

Find your passion, and keep moving! We can neither re-live yesterday, nor predict tomorrow.

So move ahead. Stop looking back.

 

 

Learning to Live with Solitude

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It’s difficult for me to be alone.  I grew up in a family of ten, seventh in line.  Although I moved out when I was eighteen, after my first (failed) year at university, I only had one apartment by myself that whole time, and it was in the year before I married my husband.  We moved to Wisconsin and had two years to ourselves before we decided to host a Japanese teacher in our home and shortly after that, I was pregnant with our first child.

So basically, I’ve nearly always been in a full house.

It’s very hard for me to be alone.

Which is a conundrum for a writer, isn’t it?  It’s a requirement of writing that you focus, that you spend time alone, chewing over ideas, trashing old ones, starting over and cheering yourself on.  Solitude is the necessity of invention.

I have had to learn how to appreciate the companion of solitude, the necessity of being alone with my thoughts, ideas, and SELF.

Don’t get me wrong, I like myself!  I think that I have whole worlds tucked away in the folds of gray matter between my ears.  It’s the lack of background activity inherent in solitude that makes me somewhat nervous.  The requirement to focus only on one thing and to do it well is an alien concept to me.

When I went back to college in my twenties, I started papers way ahead of time, kept up with my reading, maintained well-organized notes on my campus ministry, all in an effort to manage my propensity for over-multitasking.  I recognized that I was easily distracted, especially when writing, and part of that was fear: fear that I wouldn’t finish a poem, a paper, an essay.  Fear that what I had to say was not conservative, focused, or serious enough.  Fear that I was not enough.

I suppose part of that fear came from being from a large, boisterous and intelligent family.  Nine of the ten of us are women, varying in appearance, interests, political stance, and communication style.  Many of us take after our father, and are prone to spontaneous verbal sparring, political arguing, and intelligent discourse.

In my quiet moments, in my solitude self, I am more like my mother: I worry about the state of the world, about things I cannot do anything about, about things I can do something about but don’t have the emotional margin to engage myself in, about things that aren’t (and are) my responsibility.  All of those things are a distraction from getting down to business and Writing.

It’s my goal for the next year to “Enjoy the Silence,” not only to increase my writing productivity, but to start to value alone time and silence.

Wish me luck.

 

 

Finding A New Favorite Author

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   When your favorite pastime is reading, it’s very difficult to find a favorite writer.  You find yourself automatically gravitating towards your old standbys, in the hope that they have written something fresh.  About two months ago, I picked up a book that my (young) old friend Lisa had given me years ago.  Somehow it got lost in the shuffle of the piles and piles of books that she has given me over the years…and the author has become my new favorite!

    Tana French is an Irish author who has lived all over the world and has a very fresh voice.  An author’s “voice” is the style, genre, or tone in which they write a majority of their books.  Tana’s voice is homey yet mysterious, fresh though familiar.  She writes murder mysteries set in urban and rural Ireland.  Her debut novel is “In the Woods.”  It was released in 2007,  and won the Edgar Award that year for Best First Novel.  It is a breathtaking first offering!  I stayed up many nights past midnight in order to finish it.  In fact, I never read it during the day; it seemed as if reading it at night after my whole family had tucked in and was sleeping, lent the book greater mystery. 

    “In the Woods” tells the story of a traumatizing event involving Detective Rob Ryan.  He was playing in the woods as a child when two of his friends were kidnapped; this event links him to a current murder that he and his partner are called upon to solve.  He avoids recollecting this childhood trauma during the investigation, and even hides the connection when he is questioned by others who remember the kidnapping.  The plot is twisty, and vacillates between urgency and thoughtful recollection of Detective Ryan’s past.  I found myself wondering whether Ryan himself was involved in the murder!

     I am in the middle of French’s fourth novel, “Broken Harbor”, and this one also keeps me breathless.  French’s humane description of detectives and their personal trials, and suspects and their broken lives, holds me captive.  I am so happy that she has a new novel coming out in September of this year…but then I remember that I am almost done with this book and wonder what I will do with my summer while I wait!  Perhaps I can dig up the latest Michael Chabon 🙂

     Check out Tana French’s books at www.tanafrench.com and hold your breath with me!