Turn Your Back on the World (for just a bit, anyway…)

2020 has been terribly odd, don’t you think? Odd…tumultuous…spirit-sucking at times.

Listen, after a great start to the year, including a trip out west that was more fun and full of more blessings than we probably deserved, we came home to Corona…ma-ma-ma-myyyyyy Corona. Ok, not mine personally, but you know what I mean. There was so much confusion about how to proceed, so much dismay over lack of preparation, so much anger over changes from day-to-day. It is a novel virus…no one knew exactly what to do except to keep plugging, listen to the legit scientists, and use common sense, which we now know is sadly lacking in many people. But I digress…

Then came all the civil unrest. I can’t even address it because it’s ungodly complex. A lot of people would like you to believe that it’s a simple matter of law and order, but it goes so much deeper that I feel I’d have to write a whole separate blog to address what I observed and what I know (please don’t comment that it would then be a short blog). Some days I just wanted to open my window and yell, “All of you people behave out there! Whyn’t y’all act like you love somebody for a change?” I didn’t do it. I didn’t want any of my neighbors to think I was losing it. I really wasn’t, but man, the behavior of the human race can be discouraging sometimes. Again, I digress…

I’m really here to tell you about the picture up above. I like to make a small garden every year, and this year (I assume because we were all locked up in our castles with the drawbridges in the upright position), EVERYONE ELSE WANTED TO, TOO. Well, that’s a good thing, but it meant that when I went to my favorite plant place, Hoen’s, the pickings were pretty slim. I’m mostly a tomato/pepper/onions grower, and the tables were darn near empty. Kid you not. So I took what I could get. Yes, I took what I could get (thank you, Bachman Turner Overdrive). That included some varieties of tomatoes I’ve never grown before. This one happens to be called Carolina Gold. We’ve now consumed our first ripe one, and man are they ever good! Meaty, less acid-y than their red brothers and sisters. Delicious. And we got to watch it grow.

Let me encourage you to garden next year, pandemic or not – civil unrest or not – in spite of whatever happens in the election this fall. Grow something. (Something legal, I mean.) I bet you’ll feel like you are mentally healthier and happier if you can get your hands in the dirt and just turn your back on the world for a while. When you’re concentrating on nurturing growth, it’s harder to get entangled in all the noise and fury of this old world. Plus you get some awesome food.

That’s all from me. Have a peaceful day.

Ragged Road

All nurses are providers of education to patients. Whether they are giving information about how to stay well or whether they’re talking about a particular disease state and treatment options, nurses provide up-to-date information and education. And so it was in Ragged Road…Rose was prepared for labor and delivery thanks to two caring, compassionate nurses – Deb White and Angie Sweeney. The following passage describes the start of Rose’s labor in the Cordelia Weingarten Home:

In the early evening of November 10, Rose started having more frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions, or so she thought. She had not been assigned any chores again that day, and she was grateful because she had been able to get some rest. The contractions were hard and uncomfortable. She remembered what Angie had told her…if the contractions start to come regularly, they’re not Braxton-Hicks. She decided to read the materials the two nurses had given her one more time, measure the time between contractions, and get herself mentally ready for the hard work ahead.

The outcomes of labor and delivery are not quite what Rose expects, though….

Among the Angels

If I knew when I was going to die,
I would eat donuts every day.

I would fill my house with flowers
and windchimes.
Then I’d open all the windows
so the winter winds
could create
my favorite music.

I’d hurt my eyes looking at the sun.

I’d hold my children’s hands
and tell them that

         they

were the brightest light in my life.
I’d kiss my husband
tender, long, and sweet.

I’d tell them all
not to cry.

Then I’d close my eyes
and let their faces
be the breeze
that carries me
to Heaven,
knowing that only among the angels
would anything be better

than what I had on earth.

Number 5 is ‘in the can’

The latest book is completed. A few “beta readers” are going through it and have had some helpful tips. Next, it’s off to the editor.

This book’s working title is “The Survivor’s Circle.” Without giving too much away, it is about a group of women who have all survived sexual assault and have been learning to cope and move on with life. One person is unable to do this – move on – and the consequences make for a twisted, chaotic, murderous journey.

It’s a dark topic, and it wasn’t easy to write. I had to stop several times over the course of the last year, put it aside, and then come back to it later. I think that for many people, it might not be easy to read, either, though it is not focused on one sexual assault after another…it’s more focused on coping mechanisms – some good, some destructive.

I don’t know when it will be available. Once we’ve got the editing done, I hope to pursue traditional publishing routes, so potentially, this one could be quite a while before you see it. I’ll keep you up-to-date with where it is in this process, and I hope that when it’s finally available, you’ll give it a read. And as always, I appreciate all the support.

Hickory

I gave up impassioned speeches

They’re meaningless to those

who don’t want to hear.

I gave up recitation of truths.

They were meaningless to those

who choose alternative facts.

I almost gave up on reason

and rationality.

But not quite…

Thoughts came as clear

as the crystal

in my corner cabinet –

Show kindness,

decency,

the four-letter “L” word.

Strength comes from

forgiveness

if only we can learn it.

After all, life here is short –

Hard as hickory

and delicate as death.

This Weary Land

The days have been long…
long and loud
with angry shouts of intolerance
and entreating cries for justice.
Some have listened.
Some have turned away.
Fatigue plagues the spirit.
Uncertainty dulls the soul.

The color of spring …
the warmth of summer fades
as we turn up our collars
against the bluster of autumn
and the deep cold grey of winter.
And only this is sure –
There is nothing new
under a sun that will rise
and set again
upon this weary land. 

Sugar Addiction – it’s a real thing.

Something I’m happy about and something I’m embarrassed about: In the last year, I’ve dropped 20 pounds. I attribute my success to exercise only because frankly, I eat too much junk. In fact, I’m gonna ‘fess up…for lunch, I just consumed peanuts and candy corn. Washed it down with Starbucks caramel macchiato I had in the fridge. #deconstructedPayday. #diabeticinthemaking.

I could lose more weight if I’d stop with the sugar. I forget how many pounds of sugar Americans consume each year, but it’s enough to render us all Type II diabetics. Trouble is, sugar is every bit as addicting as cocaine or heroin or cigarettes or alcohol. It lights up the same areas of your brain as any one of those substances. Scientists have seen this on PET scans. Humans actually build up a tolerance for sugar…the more we have, the more we want.

I’m 67 years old, so addictions are harder to overcome. Not using age as an excuse…it’s just a fact. However, I know people who have done it – beat the sugar addiction. And the flour addiction. And all the processed crap addiction.

We weren’t meant to eat the way we do. We adopted it.

Did you know sugar helps generate inflammation? Bad stuff comes from inflammation – arthritis, heart and liver disease. Even cancer.

Anyway, I’m so thankful for Silver Sneakers. Otherwise, I’d have to cart my gut around in a wheelbarrow. I work out hard so I can try to burn up the calories my sugary goodies provide to me. FYI…it’s hard to out-exercise your intake if your intake is sugar. Just want to warn you about that. When you leave exercise class, you better be sweatin’. A LOT.

Now, I do eat healthy food, too. I love every kind of healthy food with the exception of anything that comes from the water, whether it’s a lake, river, pond, or ocean. No fish or seafood, please, unless you like watching people throw up. My experience is that most people do not care to watch you throw up. Anyway, I love pretty much every vegetable God invented, and I like most fruits too (skip those gritty, weird pears, please). I’ll eat beef, turkey, and chicken. Oh, and bacon – not healthy, but the only pork I’ll eat. Sadly, after I consume a healthy meal, it’s not long before I’m prowling around the kitchen looking for something sweet.

But see, even after the healthiest of meals, I feel…incomplete…without dessert. I feel it in my chest. Oh, the emptiness.

Can you imagine what someone who’s starving would think of my whiny sugar rant?

You Americans are so spoiled! For lunch, I had three barley heads and and a handful of clay.”

Seriously, that’s how bad it is in some countries. They would have more food if I’d stop eating all theirs.

For all the sugar addicts out there, I feel you. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ll keep trying because I want to live well into old age and be as healthy as possible for whatever time I have left. You fellow sugar fiends hang in there, too, so you can be around for those you love and for those who you love back.

Hope you got a laugh out of all this…I just learned that Vanderbilt University Medical Center discovered laughing for ten to 15 minutes burns between ten and 40 calories. Apparently, that’s enough to shift between one and 4 pounds per year. So keep laughing. At that rate, it’ll only take 5 more years to lose another 20 pounds.

Oh, and walk past the doughnuts.

Peace to all.

Holy Ground

I close my eyes and recall
that we found a dead field mouse
lying In the fountain grass
by the railroad tracks where we often walked.
She bent forward to retrieve it,
and I told her not to pick it up.

“But Mom, he needs a funeral.”

I stopped her hand,
pulled a used tissue
from my hip pocket,
and wrapped it around
the mouse’s body.
Its hair was half gone.
“Where should we bury him, sweetheart?”

She cocked her head, considering.
“I don’t think we should put him
under the dirt. I think
he should have a funeral like Daddy’s.”

We made a little fire in the back yard.
The field mouse, resting on some cotton balls
in an old Thom McCann shoebox,
was placed on a firepit pyre with great reverence
by my six-year-old.
Her beautiful hair –
the hair I once wove ribbons into –
was falling out in clumps.
Chemo ravaged her from the inside,
making itself known on her outside.
My eyes burned.

“Are you crying, Mom?”

“It’s just the smoke from the fire.”

We watched the orange flames
consume the box, the cotton, the mouse.
She stood silent for a long time,
Then turned to face me.

“Don’t put me under the dirt, Mom.
Let me have a funeral like Daddy’s.”

She knew.

She hugged me around the legs
not letting go for a long time.
Neither did I loosen my grip on her.

#

Now, her head rests on cotton –
a bleach-bright pillowcase stamped
with this hospital’s name.
Her eyes are closed,
But a smile slips her lips…

I’m sure she’s walking through
the fountain grass by the railroad tracks.
This time, she must walk alone.
Where she goes, I cannot travel.
At least not now.

And as I contemplate whether it would be
better to drink the desperate poison
or humbly fall on my knees,
she breathes her last.

The smile is still in place.
A glow surrounds her.
Even now, she is
peace
love not bound
by the finality of death.

I make my decision
and bend the knee.
I am on holy ground.

Shelter Dogs

cage

Shelter Dogs
Theresa Konwinski

Once, I adopted a rescue dog.
There was something in her
frightened face…
She had been overbred,
starved and beaten.
At first she was timid,
trembling at the smallest sound.
Later, she clung to me.
Everywhere I went, she followed,
the click of her toenails on the hard wood floor
a constant accompaniment
as I went about my work.
I understood her.

So many souls are stuck in cages
where the bars are not seen,
but felt.
People walk by,
pausing long enough to smile-
beneficent, and at the same time
full of pity.
When someone finally opens the door,
it’s hard to know whether to step forward
or cower.
In the cage for so long,
shelter dogs can barely trust
being free.

A review of Seven Secrets and what the heck am I up to now???

20190908_095807

This review comes from one of the judges for the 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

I enjoyed reading Seven Secrets by Theresa Konwinski. The setting in rural Ohio was relatable. The depiction of the relationships between the boys was pretty spot on. I did feel the initial dialogue was a bit heavy handed, and while things were maybe more formal in that time, some of the dialogue felt a little too mature for 12 year old kids. The dialogue did however establish the nuanced relationships between the kids, and set the stage for some of the tension in the story.
I felt the mystery of the accidental death of James was woven well through the balance of the book. The impact it had on the characters’ lives was realistically approached.
The plot was strong, the resolution was kind of expected in some way, and the pace, though slow and steady, did keep my attention throughout.
This is a solid coming of age story.

So there you  have it. I know I have a long way to go when it comes to writing. I hope that everything I do shows improvement. So what am I working on now?

I am writing a book about my grandparents who lived in Wyandot County. It starts in the 1920s and follow them through the mid-late 1940s. It’s a story about resilience and holding onto faith in the midst of some pretty terrible situations. I’m hoping that when it’s ready, you’ll like it and that you’ll be able to relate it to the tales from your own family’s history. I have another 20-25,000 words before it is complete, and I haven’t been doing any writing at all lately because I’ve been so busy this semester at Lourdes. That’s soon done, though, and Christmas break will allow me some time to delve back into a story that I think is worth telling.

Speaking of Christmas, I hope everyone who reads this is planning for a fun holiday. Spread kindness out there, okay?

Peace.

 

 

 


							

It’s been a while…

Been busy as all get out taking care of my health, taking care of my family, getting ready to teach Evidence-Based Practice to MSN students, getting all my harvest activities accomplished. Just wait till you taste my salsa!

Working on book #4 – it’s based on the life of my grandparents and their ten children and will span the early 1900s till my grandma went to work outside the home around 1946. It’s been fun writing it, but it’s on the back burner till I get school organized, and that’s been no small feat.

In the meantime, I penned a little poem that I think is kind of funny, and I hope it will make you chuckle. Peace, all.

Victory

Old Peoples’ Exercise Class

We’re all here just trying
to stay one step ahead
of the Grim Reaper.
He waits,
eyes shrouded,
peering out from his cloak.
Cold, bony fingers reach for us
as we do bicep curls
and squats.

We look to each other
and shout, “Keep going!”
loud enough to startle him
and force him to
shrink back into hell.

We sweat, but we smile.
Not today, Reaper.
Not today.