by MD Maurice
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Welcome to the place were I chronicle my own falls down dark holes and adventures chasing white rabbits! Come on In, Take a Bite, You Never Know What You May Find...
"Curiouser and curiouser." Alice in Wonderland
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 28th
I had a different prompt in mind for today, but decided as it’s the last Monday of January, we all needed a little pick-me-up.
Write about something happy in your life! What’s happened recently that made you smile? What’s the last thing you laughed at? I will award a MB to my favorite entry today! It's the last MB challenge day of the month, so give it your best go!
In order to fully appreciate this post, I'll have to divulge something about my personal life. I am very close to my sister but and also very different from her. We refer to ourselves as "city mouse" and "country mouse". My sister lives on a 9 acre horse farm with a menagerie that includes goats, horses, cats and dogs - so you can guess which one of us is "city mouse". I frequently joke that I have nightmares of waking up in her life, in some freaky Friday scenario that suddenly finds me running her doggie daycare and boarding business - something I would be ill equipped to do with my wardrobe of heels and pencil skirts. Notably, she says the same exact thing about my life. Until recently, I had no cause to explore my sister's rural and rustic lifestyle. I was content not to ever know the true identity of the substances she ends each day covered with. Then, my sister launched "operation Jaden" and everything changed.
I'm not sure why my sister waited until my daughter was eight to begin her crusade. It might have had something to do with us moving closer, a mere seven minutes from her new horse property. It might have just been that she had bided her time with her only niece long enough. Whatever the reason, last summer she gifted my daughter three weeks of horse camp and subsequently opened her eyes and her heart to the world of horses. My country mouse sister threw the gates to her world of fur and hooves open wide and my daughter marched through, dragging her mom (with her entirely inappropriate barn footwear) with her. Suddenly they were a secret society of two, planning and plotting for a future strewn with horsey things. Just as suddenly, I was a barn mom, which meant I was fully engaged in many, many things I had zero experience with. My daughter attacked her learning curve with gusto and passion while I, accepted my fate with as much dignity as I could muster. I bought myself muck boots and dug in, trying to seem anything but completely out of my element.
Here is the thing...and the real meat of the prompt...I've discovered that I like it. I've learned enough to know my way around the barn now. Her Tuesday evening lesson is time I actually look forward to spending with my daughter. I love watching her, acknowledging that she does seem to have the natural ability as a rider that my little sister always had. She is developing confidence and a real appreciation for the mental and physical challenges of riding. She adores my sister too, and I love the connection they share. I love that in so many ways, my sister has become my daughter's hero. It makes my heart happy to watch them together.
It isn't just about my daughter though.
Over the last year, I've grown to love this part of my sister's life, this part we share with her. I love the horses, their dark eyes reflecting something back about us all. I have an appreciation for the ones that work hard, take care of their riders despite having their own limitations. There is a special kind of grace about being with them, these massive animals who outweigh our fragile human bodies yet trust us to guide them and to care for them. There is an exchange of trust that is connected to something in our souls and it moves and fascinates me.
It brings me a kind of peace...the smell of the barn, the wide open sky above the paddocks, the pounding of my daughter's mount in a rolling canter. I enjoy the moments of tacking Sonny up before the lesson with her, sneaking him peppermints to keep him cooperative in the colder weather when he feels his years more. I love visiting my sister's own horses, and the trio of Friesian babies that currently reside with her - each of them mini black beauties that are all spunk and fire. We had the task of feeding her horses while she was away on her honeymoon and I grew to love the walk out to their pasture to drop their hay and grain in those late October afternoons. They would see us coming, their beautiful heads raised, expectant and welcoming of the meal and the petting session we were about to bestow on them. Again, there is a peace it brings me - similar in the way I used to feel slipping beneath the waves in my dive gear. Similar but different, because I am more then an observer in this world. This world demands my tactile engagement in a way scuba diving did not. Horses want that emotional and physical connection, those touches and words whispered in soft, flicking ears. I can see why people own horses, there is a quiet magic to them that brings a certain kind of solace in its wake.
Recently we were bringing Sonny out of the lesson ring and paused to clean the dirt from his shoes. Since she was stepped on early in the year, this task is one my daughter continues to be leery of. It usually falls to me to "show" her again how to get it done without getting her feet crunched. I've gotten pretty confident about it now, I've come to know how best to get Sonny to bend his leg up so I can clear out the clumps quickly. I was demonstrating for my daughter again...how you have to learn close against him, keeping your feet parallel to his. You have to reach down and grab his foot, forcing him with your body weight, to life the leg and keep his body in balance. I must have been demonstrating it with an air of authority because I heard her trainer exclaiming, "wow Mom, look at you!" as she walked up behind us. I honestly-to-God swelled with pride in that moment. I felt myself smiling. Because, here is the truth, straight from a city mouse's mouth...I like the way I've managed to learn this stuff. I like the fact that I own muck boots and can wear a head lamp with pride. I like that I know how to tack up a horse and that I go home smelling like them. I love that I can slip in mud or horse poop and not care which one it actually is. I love that I know how to help my daughter zip up her half chaps or that I even know what half chaps are! I love this little bit of country mouse I have in me now. I love it...a lot. It makes me happy in a way I never would have expected.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 27th
Because this is one of my favorite prompts that I just love to repeat, I have to do it again *Wink*
Reflect on the 30 Day Blogging Competition as a whole. What is something you learned about yourself over the course of the month? What is something you learned about your fellow competitors?
I've been really proud of how I've kept up the drive to complete every prompt this time around, even if that meant catching up on Sat/Sunday prompts on Monday morning....like I'm doing this morning! I think overall I missed one day - Jan 19th. That is something of a record for me!
Overall, my favorite part of this has been connecting with my fellow bloggers and feeling that sense of community here. I have greatly appreciated the way Charlie 🎃🌈 puts so much of the personal struggles, insights and triumphs into every blog entry posted. I have enjoyed the humor and candor of Waltz in the Lonesome October . I have discovered much common ground with penntonic and Cobwebbed Reading Reindeer . There have been more each week who's blogs I have read, laughed with and learned from. I have appreciated every time someone has read and commented on one of my posts as well. I'm sorry to see January coming to an end but it has been a really positive and welcome experience.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 26th
We’re in the final countdown of the competition! Only five prompts remain. For this final Creation Saturday, write about something that’s in its final countdown. Have fun!
Playing a bit of catch up today and feeling a bit melancholy which is maybe why this prompt makes me think of my senior dog, and how we all feel like we are watching him run down after a long and active life.
Turk is rounding on age 13, which for a Min Pin is pretty old. They typically have a lot of health issues, they are not the heartiest breed. Luckily, he has been spared from diabetes and heart problems, but he does suffer from arthritis and has lost 70% of his vision as well as his teeth. He is increasing irritable and believes since he can not longer see a person's face clearly, it must mean that they are a murder or worse. I frequently have to apologize for barking and snarling, to strangers and family members alike.
He prefers to spend most of time sleeping under the blankets or stalking me about the house. He feels safest in my general orbit and so I discover he is rarely more than two feet from me. Even when I shower, I can make out his small silhouette through the foggy glass, patiently waiting for me on the bathmat. He has lived a long and full life where he has been pampered and cuddled. He has been our problem "child" and our treasured companion. It is clear that he only wants to be with us now, in his final years and we oblige him as much as we can. He comes to work with me most days, having been banned from doggie daycare for his less than hospitable attitude, and sleeps under the deck at me feet. Aside from a rare burst of manic energy, he prefers to lounge about. Every once in a while, he will get the bug to play and run. We are treated to the glimpse of the frolicking puppy his once was before the red fur of his face turned gray and his bright, intelligent eyes grew cloudy.
So we are loving him but mentally preparing for what we know will be his final time with us - as is the way with the old dogs we know and love.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 25th
It's the last Fun Fact Friday of January! Here’s a straightforward prompt to celebrate: Make a list of at least ten random facts about yourself.
Ten Random facts about me...this seems harder than it should be actually. It has been a taxing morning on several levels but I will see what I can come up with here...
1. This is most likely the weirdest thing about me...I am phobic-ally afraid of praying mantis. Like, if one is near me, I am rendered frozen. I break out in a sweat, my stomach hurts. It is hard for me to even look at pictures of them. Before you ask, I am not really sure where the phobia comes from, there must have been a traumatic introduction at some point in my early childhood. My family finds it hilarious. They frequently test me during those long, humid summer days when the insects seem to be out in full force. They love to "surprise" me with them. My mother finds this particularly entertaining (my mother is bat-shit crazy)
2. I'm a huge fan of 1930-1940's era pinup art. Like huge. I think there is no better representation of female beauty and power then those richly colored Varga girls or those cheeky women gracing the noses of fighter jets and ships.
3. I work in aircraft sales - selling private aircraft to end users. There are not many women in the industry and people always seem surprised when I disclose what I do for a living.
4. I went to school for marine biology. My heroes were Jacques Cousteau and Dr. Eugene Clarke (the shark lady). I wanted to be the next great ocean explorer...from age 6, all through school. I was even a high school aquanaut and even traveled to Australia as a science delegate. Then I somehow ended up with a career in aviation. Go figure.
5. My favorite movies are "Mr. Holland's Opus" and the "Lost Boys" and yes, I am completely aware of how different those films are from each other.
6. I have an inexplicable and intense dislike of the singer Jewel.
7. I love asparagus and Brussel sprouts but bananas make me throw up.
8. Kayaking with Orcas is number 2 on my bucket list (#1 is a European Viking River Cruise)
9. I don't believe Bigfoot exists but I'm fairly certain the Loch Ness monster does.
10. My biggest fear in life is that I will somehow screw my daughter up by making too many bad parenting mistakes.
|"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1865 January 24, 2019
If you could only use music to describe yourself to someone, what song would it be and why? If you can add the youtube link so we can hear it too.
If I had to pick one song to describe myself, the choice would be clear. The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony, is haunted and complex, much like I believe I am. It has a waning melody that rolls and peaks moodily but there is also hope to be found in the rising crescendo of the bridge and refrain of, "change, I can change...". I love this song. It makes me feel centered somehow, gives credence to feeling like we are "a million different people from one day to the next", as we go through this life...trying to make it a life worth living. It is a life that takes all the bitter and the sweet to make a beautiful soundtrack.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 24th
How did you start writing? Did someone urge you to write, or did it come naturally?
I'm not sure if anyone urged me to write. My grandmother was an artist and poet. She always encouraged me to express myself creatively. I spent a great deal of time with her when I was growing up. I remember reading stories to her, she was always willing to listen to those early, awkward stories when I was finding my "voice". I wrote really terrible songs too, the corny and anxiety-riddled tween variety, in multi-colored spiral notebooks I hid under my bed. I seemed to be always writing something from very early on. It felt natural for me. I felt that whatever drew my grandmother to canvas and oil paint, also drew me to words.
I wrote all through high school, fell in love with the ability to express myself with words. I took a creative writing course in high school that was taught by the writer Wally Lamb. Wally Lamb ran the Creative Writing program at my high school, that was until Oprah selected his freshman novel, "She's Come Undone" for her book club. He told us the incredible story about getting the phone call that changed his life and started his career as a novelist. We had a first row seat to his transformation into famous, best selling author. I learned so much from him in that class and watching his success happen in real time was so fascinating. I still remember the day he collected our assignments and paged through them slowly until he selected mine to read aloud from. It was such a moment of validation for me, that someone with his talent thought my work was worthy of the attention.
It wasn't until college that writing truly became more than a passion. I discovered that I didn't just love to write but that I needed to write. It became my way of dealing with life, with trauma and pain and loss. My grandfather committed suicide while I was away at school. The tragedy left me guilt-stricken and started the domino effect of seismic charges that would devastate my family. I wrote through that time, finding a remarkable peace from releasing my pain onto paper. It was cathartic, it was agonizing, but it was also healing. I began to write more compulsively. It was my therapy. It was what kept me anchored. My writing took a darker turn, reflective of things I kept inside, the demons and impulses I battled with. I found I could no longer let my grandmother read my work...in fact, I became very much a closeted writer.
There have been difficult times in my life. I have remained a loyal writer throughout and I credit the craft with having saved me at several points when it could have gone another way. Writing has seemed to always pull me back from the brink. When I became a mother, I found a new muse. For the first time in my life, my muse was about light and promise not pain, or rage or loss. My daughter, growing inside me, awakened a new voice and it changed everything. It inspired me to really open the doors and start pursuing writing more seriously. I've been free of the closet ever since.
|30-Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 23rd
How different was your life one year ago? How different do you imagine your life will be one year from today?
Maybe it is just me, but a span of twelve months just passes so quickly that changes, unless they are hugely significant, are hard to register for me. Other than moving to a new home, not much else is different about my life one year ago...likewise, I can't imagine any big difference in my life in another year's time either. Unless of course something were to happen and in which case, it would not be a welcome change because I like the way my life is right now in this moment. We are settling into our new home and getting used to a more rural neighborhood. I love our new home, the first one we have bought together as a family. It has been an adjustment but for all the right reasons. We took a risk though, and sometimes I worry that we've over extended ourselves. The stress of that worry can get to me sometimes but I try to stay positive.
More than anything I crave stability. For many years I was with someone who I believed I was building a life with. It turned out to be a house a cards and it came crashing down around me. Fortunately, years later I have a healthy, beautiful daughter, a good husband and a beautiful new home to make our own. All of it took years, which sometimes felt like decades so for me, a mere year is like a blink of an eye.
|"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 2256: January 22, 2019
Prompt: Night Flowers.
When I was in college I did a brief stint at the University of Hawaii in Hilo on the big island. It was my first time in Hawaii and the strongest first impression I had was the smell of the night flowers. I'm not sure what blooms were responsible for the intoxicating scent that would hang everywhere once dusk settled. It was the most enticing perfume, rich and it infused everything around it. I would walk around campus at night just breathing it in. To this day, that scent stays with me...indelible in my core memories and forever linked to Hawaii and my time there.
"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1863--January 22, 2019
Prompt:“The image in the mind’s eye. For me, it’s where the obsession began. It’s what keeps me going, it never fails to excite me.” -Martin Scorsese. What do you think of obsessions? As a creative writer, are you as happy as Martin Scorsese about your own obsessions?
I am careful with the word "obsession". I spent too years of my life with an addict, and for me, there is a fine like between obsession and addiction. I make a conscious habit of not being too obsessed with anything as a result. I have passions that I pursue, things I feel very strongly about. I am excited by my passions, I devote energy to them but I do not believe I am obsessed by them. Obsession rings to closely to madness as well, and madness is something I have always feared. Madness runs in my family, it has claimed to big a tax on us. For me, obsession has far too many negative connotations for me to consider.
|30-Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 18th
How much do you know about food waste in your country? Spend some time researching this issue and share a fact you learned. How conscious of your access to food are you and in what ways can you be more responsible for reducing your own food waste?
I would like to say I am more aware of my own food waste but as a mother of a picky child, that would be stretching the truth. Sometimes I turn a blind eye to the plates of dinner that go unfinished into the bin. This country in particular suffers from over-consuming and that translates into more food waste than most other countries in the world. Just a simple google search revealed how serious this issue is globally, and it left me feeling embarrassed and depressed.
"All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe."
So really, shame on us. We have a billion people starving on our planet and yet "1/3 of all food produced ends up going to waste!" What is wrong with us? Why are we not funneling more of our intellectual resources at trying to find a solution to the humanitarian hunger?
The facts are pretty sobering.
|30-Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 22nd
What is your preferred book reading medium? Kindle, computer screen, audiobook, or good old fashioned paper? How come?
I have deftly avoided the e-book craze. I have never owned a kindle, have never used my mobile device to peruse an e-book either. I have such little free time to read than when I do manage to snag those precious moments, I want to spend them with a real, honest-to-god, made-of-paper and bindings book. I want the tactile experience of cracking open a book, thumbing through its crisp pages and smelling that "book smell". I totally get that e-readers are convenient. I get that they are easier to travel with than a bag full of hardcovers. I am just not willing to sacrifice the things I love about books for convenience. One of my favorite places to wander about is this place called the book barn. It is an old barn and various other outbuildings that are brimming with books...to the roof line. There lots of buildings on the property settled throughout acres of meandering gardens that house specific genres and rooms that are stocked, floor to ceiling with thousands upon thousands of books. Actual books. It is a place you can get lost in for hours, just browsing covers and book jackets for your next treasure. There is something richly satisfying about books that doesn't translate to an electronic device. You loose too much of a book's character I think when you can hold it your hands.
I do enjoy listening to audiobooks though. It is a good compromise for me to still enjoy my favorite authors and discover new ones during my commute or as company on a long walk. I've discovered the narrator can make or break a story for me though, and on at least one occasion, I have gone and gotten the book from the library when I've been unable to finish the audiobook. I think its only fair to give the story another chance in its true medium before I deem it, "no good".
There is one thing that can be said for e-books and I feel it only fair that I mention it. E-books have opened the door for publishers and writers alike. I have discovered it can sometimes be easier to get your pieces picked up by a e-book publisher, especially if you write shorter fiction that normally would have a more limited market. I think e-books have paved the way for more unrepresented writers to gain some publishing credits which is an all around great thing. So, at least in that respect, I have to give the e-book industry a bit of credit.
For me though, its still actual books. Always and forever.