Letting go of the stuff that drags you down

When I went home to look after my father in late 2013, I was reminded that I’ve been leaving a trail of stuff behind every time I move. A closet in my parents’ home was full of crap from my apartment in Halifax that I’d never even thought about going through, that I didn’t even realize they still had. Heck, there was even stuff from my childhood. My brother took the contents of that apartment, including my items, into his own home after my dad died, so now there’s this little pseudo storage unit of my junk lingering around, taking up physical space in someone else’s house.

I’ve had a storage unit in Ottawa since late 2011. At the time, I wanted a place to keep the bulk of the stuff I thought I might need or want in the future so that I could move relatively unencumbered to my new rented room. My goal, I thought (I still think), was to become more portable, to be able to travel more lightly. I had plans to go through everything and eventually eliminate the need for a storage unit at all, to truly start travelling lightly.

That never happened.

I hadn’t changed how I functioned, how I shopped and gathered and collected stuff, I’d just removed it all from my immediate view and cleared out space to be filled up again. And so I started gathering more stuff at my new nearly-empty room. It was a different kind of collecting and gathering — smaller items, items I actually used and enjoyed, though more of them than is practical. (Stationery supplies, including specialty notebooks and fountain pens, were — and to extent still are — a particular weakness.)

The weight of everything, the pressure of this desperate need to fill this hole in me with stuff, eventually felt like it was killing me. Somewhere deep in me, I knew I needed to make an even bigger move if I was going to have any hope of surviving. And so I made the sudden decision to quit my job and use the last of my money to move across the country. Like a drowning person, desperately grasping for anything to hold onto to pull themselves out, I grabbed onto the thought of this big change and held on for dear life.

Again, I had planned to weed through everything and only keep what was going to come with me. But there were large, bulky items (like my mother’s paintings) that just wouldn’t have shipped easily, and there were limits to how much I could actually bring or ship to me. And I just ran out of time and energy. So I threw everything I couldn’t bring with me into the storage unit with plans to come back the following year to get it all shipped out to me. (I made sure to bring the things I truly didn’t want to risk losing, like my cat’s ashes and the Tupperware container of my parents’ ashes, with me. Even with eight suitcases, I still left so much stuff behind. It’s a little mind boggling to actually think about.) I haven’t lived in Ottawa in two years now and, if I’m honest, I was not likely to ever have been in a position to ship everything out to me or to store it once it was up here. But I still kept paying for the unit because I just couldn’t let it all go.

Then, in July of this year, my contract job here ended. I should have expected it, planned for it, but I never do. While I am able to collect EI while I job hunt, it is not enough to pay for this storage unit. That was luxury I couldn’t afford when I need to pay rent and other more immediate and necessary bills.

The storage company was so nice, so willing to help — they were even willing to deliver ALL of my stuff to someone else in Ottawa so that I didn’t lose it. But, honestly, I’m kind of relieved that I didn’t have the means to take them up on that offer. While there are things that it annoys me to lose (like the bottles of ink in formulations they no longer make) and things that are irreplaceable (like my mother’s paintings and afghans), I desperately needed to have this not be constantly on my mind. (And shifting it all over to another location would just keep that worry alive. I have a storage unit here that is more than enough worry for me, and it really just exists so I would have some place to keep my belongings should I ever be at risk of becoming a bag lady.)

I asked them to pass on my email address to whoever wins the auction — I’d hoped to explain the value of some of the items in the unit (they might as well get as much as they can for it, and I’d hate for them to throw out something that could make them money and make a collector happy) and perhaps one day arrange to have the things like the genealogy notes sent to me. (The unit contained an eclectic mix of tarot decks and crystals; a ridiculous number of notebooks, fountain pens, and stationery supplies; old journals, hard drives, and backup DVDs; out-of-print technical writing and grammar books; memorabilia for an Australian soap opera; all of my genealogy notes and other personal papers; paintings by me and by my mother as well as artwork prints from other artists; afghans and a quilt made by long-dead relatives; and tchotchkes from my childhood. While there is probably some completely worthless junk there — I was doing to pretty broad dumping of stuff on the day of my flight — whoever got this unit should easily make up whatever they paid for it and then some if they take some time.)

I never heard from the buyer, but I got an email from the storage company a few weeks ago that they have a small box of “personal effects”. A friend who still lives in Ottawa picked that up for me and will be shipping it to me in the next couple of weeks. I have no idea what it contains — it almost certainly does not contain any of the items I was hoping it would contain, like old journals, but it apparently does contain a bunch of photos.

What’s funny is that the day after I told the storage company to let it go to auction, I had a sudden money windfall of almost exactly what I owed for the unit. I *could* have called them back to reclaim the unit, but that windfall was much better spent paying other bills I was behind on. (And the sudden windfall would not have helped the fact that I just couldn’t afford the monthly payments and I would have ended up in the same place in a month or two.)

Other than the friend who picked up the box of personal effects, no one I know knows that I’ve lost the storage unit. Most people wouldn’t really care. And the people that would care wouldn’t understand why I let it go. (They didn’t understand how I could be OK with unloading most of my possessions in 2011, either.) They would mourn the loss of the paintings and other sentimental items. They wouldn’t understand that I didn’t want anyone to fix this, that I wanted this finished. I can’t afford to owe anyone financially or emotionally to keep this thing going.

And I can’t keep leaving these piles of my stuff all over the place, like a breadcrumb trail leading back to where I started when I need to be looking forward.

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Goal-setting and the zen of being in the now

Jeb Corliss recently posted on his Facebook page:

“Try not to think short term. Try to think where you want to be in 5 years and make plans on how to really get there. What kind of training do you need to do? What steps need to be taken? What do you need to sacrifice? If you focus you will get there so be very careful where you decide you want to be. The old saying be careful what you wish for because you might just get it is very very true…”

If you were to have asked my mother while she was alive what one of the most trying aspects of having me as a daughter was, I suspect she’d say it was that I wasted my “talents”. I’m a dabbler at heart. A Jill-of-all-trades with no real urge to be a master of any. And if I’m good at something, if I have a talent for it, then I reach the point of being done with it more quickly than if I were pursuing a skill or task in which I had little native talent. Art, writing, music, math, languages…whatever. I try it, show promise, and then move onto something else. Very ADD.

There was a time in my life that this aspect of my personality was upsetting to me as well. Why was I wasting so much of my life, frittering away precious time that I could have been spending accomplishing goals. Yada, yada, yada. Over the last several years, though, I’ve come to be very comfortable with this. (Possibly more comfortable than is healthy, but that’s a thought for another post.)

The world is full of affirmation-laden, goal-oriented, browbeating self-help gurus and life coaches who make it clear that you are not living up to your potential if you’re just going with the flow. You need to strive to be a better you. The you that you are at this moment just isn’t cutting the mustard.

Life doesn’t need to be goal-oriented. Sometimes it’s just about the experience.

That is the true essence of the concept of living in the moment.

 

What is the story that I want to tell?

I was reading through the early posts on this blog today. It’s been almost nine years since I started writing here. In many ways, I’m very much the same person I was then, with many of the same faults and frailties that I had then. But in other ways, I’m very much a completely different person, in ways I would never have anticipated nine or ten years ago.

I’ve lived here for over 20 years now, longer than I’ve ever lived consecutively in one town/city in my entire life. I don’t know what that means. I always thought of myself as a transplanted Maritimer, but I’ve now lived here almost as long as I lived in Nova Scotia in total and as long as I lived in Nova Scotia after we moved back from British Columbia. I’ve been almost five years without my mother, four years without my cat, and one-and-a-half years without my father. I am a different person now than five years ago, but closer to the person I was when I was five.

I’ve spent decades telling a story of me that is not really the story I want to tell. A story of sadness, chaos, clumsiness, daydreaming, and absent focus. What is the story I want to tell? What parts of me do I really want the world to see, to know as “me”? What do I want the story of me to be during the latter (finer?) part of my life?

The Last Time…

A last reminder

“Call Dad @ 3PM on Monday”

“Call Dad @ 7am on Wednesday”

Those notes to myself are still stuck to the wall above my bed, tucked into the top of one of my favourite pictures of one of my favourite “people”.

“Call Dad @ 3PM on Monday” Monday, September 2, 2013. The next day, he was going to be prepping for his surgery on Wednesday and didn’t think he’d want to talk to anyone. So we had a long chat — about nothing, about everything — this one last time.

“Call Dad @ 7am on Wednesday” Wednesday, September 4, 2013. A quick call after I got home from work on the day of his surgery, to wish him well, to tell him I loved him before he headed off with my brother to the hospital.

Two-and-a-half weeks in the hospital, during which I fought other callers, visitors, pain, and drugs for time to talk with him. Our conversations were short and sad and so very heartbreaking. Then a week at home, where I still fought other callers, visitors, pain, and drugs for time to talk with him. (I went home at the end of September, to look after him while we waited for home health care to kick in, but he passed away only a couple of short weeks later, at 9AM on October 16, 2013. )

Today would have been his 77th birthday. And not a day goes by that I don’t wish I had more time to talk to him, about nothing, about everything.

You don’t ever think that the last time is the Last Time. For anything.

Compassion and judgement

On April 28, a terrible car crash occurred in Surrey, BC, in which an entire carload of people (all part of the same family) were killed.

The driver of the other vehicle, which by all accounts had to have been going at a very fast speed, was hospitalized. Immediately, people began speculating about the cause of the crash. Not just speculating, but rushing to judgement. He was speeding and running red lights because he was reckless, or drunk, or stupid. Whatever. People felt justified in condemning him without any actual knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the accident.

The man died a week after the crash while being operated on for a brain tumour that no one, including the man himself, knew he had. Blood tests have since shown that he was not under the influence of anything at the time of the crash, and now the realization that this brain tumour could have contributed to the crash is making people rethink their earlier judgements.

Why, as a species, do we do this? Make snap judgements about people and situations based on our (usually very limited) knowledge at the time? This is how lynch mobs begin, you know.

The short of it is that we don’t ever know the full story behind any event. We’ll never know what crap is or has been going on in someone’s life up to that point, why someone might be driven to do something.

Shaken, not stirred

Haven’t felt a significant earthquake myself here in Ottawa since the one I wrote about in June 2010.

Was trying to get a nap in after working all night and felt this vibration go through the springs of my mattress, like a huge truck convoy going past the house. When it went on too long, I decided to get up and check online. Twitter for the win!

According to the Earthquakes Canada site, they’d initially said it was a 4.8 near Braeside, ON, but now they’re reporting it as a 5.1 magnitude quake 21 km NE of Shawville, QC, at 09:43. The page for it is at http://www.earthquakescanada.nrcan.gc.ca/recent_eq/2013/20130517.1343/index-eng.php.

The USGS page for the event is at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usb000gxna#summary.

Be sure and report it if you felt it at both places. (Both pages offer questionnaires to fill out for just that thing.)

Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely

When I was recovering from my pulmonary embolism in early 2000, I slept sitting up in a cushioned rocker chair. As always, Maci slept with me, in this case on a pillow tucked between the side of the chair and my chest so that he wouldn’t be lying with his full weight directly on my chest. (It became our standard way of sleeping right up until shortly before his passing.) During that recovery phase, I played one song almost exclusively on my Walkman: The Backstreet Boys’ “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely“. At the time, there was something about the “hard to breathe” part in the first verse that caught my attention, since I couldn’t.

Show me the meaning of being lonely
Is this the feeling I need to walk with
Tell me why I can’t be there where you are
There’s something missing in my heart

In the years after that, my singing of this chorus became one of the things that would bring Maci to me from wherever he was in the apartment (“Viva Forever” by the Spice Girls was another) and so it is inextricably tied up with my memories of him. The words are so much more poignant now that they were back then.

It’s been three years now since my mother started to wrap up her time in this world and two years since my beloved boy started to wrap up his: I miss you both more than I can possibly describe, every day, and I’m still wondering why I can’t be there where you are.

Giving thanks

As a child, saying grace meant reciting (without really understanding) the typical child’s prayer, “God is Great, God is Good; Let us thank Him for our food.” It was usually reserved for special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving when company was over. Otherwise, despite my mother being very much a Christian, saying grace did not figure much into our day-to-day lives.

My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, said grace with every meal. When we visited with her, we were included in the ritual, holding hands around the dinner table as she recited her ever-changing and heart-felt thanks. I was impressed with my grandmother’s ability to give thanks without resorting to a rhyming child’s prayer, but I never quite understood the point of thanking a god (your God) for your food, as though it/he was the only reason you had food in the first place. When I was little, saying grace was just something you did by rote, like reciting the Lord’s Prayer. After I began my spiritual search as a teenager, it was just a reminder that I had put Christianity aside.

I never really thought of the concept of giving thank again until just a few years ago when I began considering veganism.

I was (and still am somewhat) conflicted about veganism as a lifestyle choice. On the one hand, I’m just not a big meat eater and I never have been. On the other hand, veganism tends to be somewhat unbalanced — all-or-nothing, black-or-white, rather than shades of grey — and I am more and more about the grey as I get older. I found it hard to reconcile the idea that meat-eating was somehow unnatural with the fact that carnivores abound in Nature itself. And if it’s wrong to eat a living creature, why is it then OK to eat living plants? Isn’t that using the same judgement that makes people think that animals are less than us to make plants less than animals?

As I was trying to work out the inconsistencies in my head, I came across a July 2008 blog post by Amber the Donkey at Spring Farm Cares that answered the very questions I had. I’m going to reproduce the post here in its entirety simply because it’s hard to link directly to it on the Spring Farms site. (It predates the Blogspot blog and I really want you to read it; and whatever you may or may not think about the idea that animals can communicate with us, I urge you to visit the Spring Farm Cares site and its blog and read the posts ascribed to Amber in particular — regardless of their origin, they are incredibly profound yet accessible and may well answer questions you didn’t even know you had.) Any highlighting/emphasis is mine.

Q: I am wondering if being a vegetarian is most appropriate for an animal lover like me. I have done this before, but currently I eat meat. I certainly do not like supporting the cruelty of the meat industry — especially the factory farms. At the same time, I look at the animal world, and see meat eaters everywhere. So, what say you?

Amber Donkey: This is a question for which each and every one of you must answer for yourselves. Your choices that you make for your well-being and your body are yours alone to make. That basic guideline being stated, I can give you my opinion and the opinion of the animals I live with, some of whom would be eaten if they were not here. This is a question that immediately raises lots of emotion and judgment for many people. I would like to say emphatically, that whatever your choice, it should never be judged by anyone. Many feel they do not want to eat meat to honor the animals, and then they condemn and judge those who have made different choices. This does not honor the animals at all. Your question is actually 2 separate issues however. And I will answer it in two parts to make it more clear.

The first issue is to eat meat or not and how do animals feel about it. I can tell you this. Animals understand being eaten. Animals understand the predator/prey relationship. Humans do not understand this. Many look to animals and say that they eat each other so it must be ok to be eaten. But what you fail to see is that those animals who eat other animals to live, do so in relationship to those other animals. In that relationship there is respect, honor, appreciation, and love of Life that is passed between the animal being eaten and the one eating of it’s flesh. Every animal eaten by another animal is taken with regards to their spiritual connection with all of Life. It is never taken unjustly. It is never taken lightly. It is never taken for granted. And no life is ever wasted. That is the essence of the predator/prey relationship. It is based on honor and respect. Animals are not upset that humans eat meat. In fact, in our own barn we have heard visitors say that those who eat meat are not spiritual. We believe this is not correct. These are not mutually exclusive.

However, most humans are not even aware of what they are eating. They do not eat with spiritual awareness. If you did, you would be in relationship to all you eat, plant and animal alike. You would be conscious of the fact that for you to live, something lends it’s life to you to nourish you. You would thank each and every thing that nourishes you. And in that respect, that life would live on through you. When you are out of relationship with what you eat, then you do not honor what is being given to you. That is equally true for plant life as well as animal life. There is no difference. Life is life. Plants do have conscious awareness. It just looks different to you. Herbivores are in relationship to what they eat. I am always thankful to the grasses and grains that have given their lives for me. That thankfulness is a part of who I am, as it is for each and every one of the beings who live with me on this farm. We have a relationship with grass and plants.

What we see in humans is a lot of ingratitude for what you are given. Do you ever thank your food? Do you thank the apple for the nourishment it brings you? Do you thank the leaf of lettuce? The tomato? The chicken or the cow? So many people do not even have awareness of what kind of animal they are eating. So the travesty is the lack of awareness and relationship with what nourishes you. Animals understand that in the end we all are eaten. Our bodies are consumed by another or insects or earth. It is part of the cycle. Humans have removed themselves completely from that cycle. You may be on the top of the food chain, but you have no understanding of the relationship of every living thing around you. And while you may not be eaten by other animals, you are certainly eaten by your own misgivings.

The second part of your question is actually about factory farming. Because while animals understand being eaten and that relationship, it doesn’t mean we understand living lives of hell and dying in panic and pain. That also is not part of the natural way of things. And it is a direct product of humans not being in relationship with their food. If you were in relationship with all you ate, you would never mistreat an animal in the food chain. You would never kill your vegetables with poisons. You would treat ALL living things with love, respect, and honor. Because you would understand that the life you treat well will nourish you. Instead, you have walled off all relationship with your food and thus have treated the living beings who give their lives to you with complete disrespect, dishonor, and total lack of compassion. And this you then feed to yourselves and your children. If humans for one minute felt the anguish and pain of the animals you hold captive and kill for your food, the practice you call factory farming would come to a screeching halt. Yet you blindly consume that anguish daily. What you do to them goes into you.

Is it possible then to eat meat and be spiritual? Absolutely yes. To do so you simply need to make your choice to be aware and thankful of each and every thing you eat and that nourishes you. When you have done that, you will have honored the life of that being who will then live on through your flesh. This is true for the grass I eat. It is true for the carrots and apples people bring me. It is true for the chickens and ducks who live with me. All of us understand this as such a basic and simple truth.

With those words, I understood the point of saying grace. It’s not about thanking some nebulous, singular higher power; it’s about thanking your fellow living entities for their contributions to your survival.  It’s something many cultures (particularly cultures that live closer to the land) have long understood, but unfortunately something that many people have lost touch with.

Note: This post has been languishing in my Drafts folder for years, but comes to mind now after Kate wrote about meeting two rats. In her post, she describes what one of the rats, Ohna, passed onto her; and it echoes Amber’s words so much that it reminds me of how poorly I’ve followed the advice I read four years ago:

Please tell the other humans to take a moment to connect with the souls of the animals who have died for them. (Shows me humans eating chicken off of a plate.) You don’t have to feel sad for them or guilty – these emotions will only make you sick in your heart, and they will not help the animals. Just take a moment to thank the animals who have touched your life and your body (shows me leather belts and shoes.) Animals are all around humans all the time. Their bodies are everywhere and so their spirit consciousness is everywhere too. Thank your animals (the ones you eat, the ones you wear) and it will do your soul good.

Overload

“I don’t know.”

It’s been my rote answer to almost every meaningful question over the last year or more.

What do you want? I don’t know. How do you feel? I don’t know. Where are you headed? I. Don’t. Know.

From a metaphysical point of view, I’ve been shoveling other people’s videos, audios, writings into my head since my teenage years. With the explosion of the Internet and the massive amount of information that is available at our fingertips about any and every conceivable topic, I’m reaching critical overload. I may have already tripped the breaker; the question is, do I want to reset it?

I’ve been trying to meditate more over the last several weeks. It was going good for awhile, but lately I’m finding myself too frustrated to pay sufficient attention. The more frustrated I get, the less I can meditate; the less I meditate, the more frustrated I get. It’s a self-sustaining cycle. As the frustration builds, I find myself falling back into the habit of researching.

I’m a junkie addicted to the compiling of information, the assimilation of data. An information binge eater. I can’t just sample it, I must gorge myself on everything I can find on a topic and then, unsurprisingly, find myself completely burned out at the end. Binge eating fills a void. Everyone’s void is different but the key to getting a handle on it is the same: find out what the void is and find a better way to fill it, repair it. Information binge eating is exactly the same, driven by the same need to fill a psychological or metaphysical void. It goes hand-in-hand with many aspects of hoarding (in that bingeing on information frequently includes stockpiling books, videos, digital content, and what not) and brings along much of the same baggage. For me, the metaphysical bingeing derives at least partly from this need to fill the huge questioning void in my soul, as though someone else holds the key to my own spiritual quest, when a quest by its very nature is personal and individual and something only you can undertake.

It’s really time that I started looking within for my answers, instead of expecting to find the answers to my own personal questions and crises in someone else’s words. To do that, I really need to be more conscientious about meditating and using other inward-facing tools like journaling. My dreams have been particularly vivid lately so I want to start recording those where I can remember them. Just take an inner journey of my own instead of reading about other people’s mystical travels. I may have to avoid the Internet for awhile to do that.

[As an aside, today, while napping in between stretches of watching the new Bob Marley documentary, I had a dream in which I told a man who looked like a young Bill Gates that there were people out there with both a deep understanding of the metaphysical nature of the universe and a great affinity with technology and that he should go find them, actively go out there and search for them, because they were the future. It seemed important enough to me that I kept repeating the words every time I woke up briefly in order that I wouldn’t forget when I finally got up. (Didn’t quite work out, since I forgot some of the specific words, but the gist and images of it remained. I also forgot something Bob Marley himself said in the dreams, something I’d also thought was important but clearly not as important. LOL)]

Spiders and storyweaving

Over the last couple of weeks, I have encountered spiders regularly in my bedroom. One spider at a time. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a house and so I haven’t really encountered spiders very often in my adult life. (During the emptying of my old apartment in November and December, I found and dispatched a number of spiders from the dark and dusty recesses of the various clutter-filled cubby holes, but that was in conjunction with a whole lot of other multi-legged undesirables; otherwise I hadn’t encountered more than a handful of spiders in my own home in my entire adult life.)

I’m not afraid of spiders — in fact, an old boyfriend had a pet tarantula that I held and let crawl up my arm. (As an aside, if you’ve never held a tarantula, you really should at least once in your life. It’s a most remarkable sensation — their “feet” feel like the hook side of velcro, which is not at all what I expected. And it tickles.) But I don’t like the idea of spiders getting into things they aren’t meant to be in, like my hair. So I have difficulty letting them remain in areas where that is a possibility. I’ve tried to explain to them that there’s an entirely empty bedroom next to mine that they are welcome to take over, but they seem to like mine best. It’s not a good mix.

During all this, and despite the fact that I’ve long considered getting a spider or spider web tattoo, I’ve never considered that perhaps the repeated presence of the spiders might have a more symbolic meaning. My weekly class with Asia Voight last night featured one of my favourite authors, Dr. Steven Farmer. He spoke about power animals and spirit animals and about learning to recognize when the repeated presence of a particular animal brings a message for you. While I was listening, I decided to bring up the Spider card in his “Messages From You Animal Spirit Guides Oracle Cards” iPhone app:

Trust the creative spark you’re feeling, and express it through writing stories that inspire and enlighten.  The pulse of creativity is especially strong right now, triggering a not unfamiliar and compelling desire to express yourself through creative writing. Whether or not the tales you weave are true, whether they’re based on actual experience or the imaginings of your fertile mind, each day sit yourself down and pour out the words that come to you. Don’t ponder each sentence or paragraph; just write whatever wants to be written through you. To inspire and enlighten others, you don’t need a profoundly complex tale. Start by describing a personal experience, one where you gained some insight that may also be useful for others. However, don’t focus on how people will respond to your story; instead, just enjoy the process of writing without judging your work or yourself. […]

Associations: Creativity, wisdom, weaving, balance, storytelling, writing, connectedness, inspiration, femininity, nurturing, communication, imagination, individuality

It touches on two things that have been on my mind lately: blogging and continuing to work on the novels I started for past 3-Day Novel contests:

  • Blogging: I didn’t write much in this blog after Maci died because, well, I just really couldn’t put what I was going through into words. Since the move, I’ve been wanting to write more here, but I’ve been conflicted. This blog has always been my general, all purpose blog. I’ve tried to keep most of my spiritual and writing ramblings to other blogs I’ve created for those purposes, but that hasn’t been working for me so far as it has led only to dozens of half-written and halfhearted draft posts strewn across all of the blogs, with few actually published. I don’t want to split myself apart like that any more so I’m going to reintegrate myself into this one blog. And I’m going to start trying to post regularly — perhaps even daily like I did before. I do have thoughts to share that might well help someone else, and if not, the writing is the thing. If it only helps me to sort things out, then it will have done its job well.
  • Writing: When I moved, I threw away most of the books I’d collected over the years. The relatively few books I kept tend to fall into three categories — spiritual, technical writing or grammar, and creative writing. The technical writing/grammar books I kept because I expect to one day go back into technical writing and many of the books I have are hard to come by today; the spiritual books are relevant to my current intentions for my life; and the creative writing books speak to my long-held and newly-renewed desire to write and publish (even if on my own) a novel. Today, I received my participation sticker for last year’s 3-Day Novel contest and a pretty hefty discount offer for this year’s contest fee (30% off). So I signed up again. Between now and then, I would like to revisit some of the other stories I’d begun for past contests and finally get them written. One in particular — one that speaks to the interconnectedness of all things — seems to want to be written now and so I think I will start on that one. One of my biggest difficulties with past contests is that I lacked the discipline to sit down over a 3-day long weekend and try to write an entire novel. By making a commitment now to write at least something every day, perhaps I will be able to succeed in September. More importantly, the stories already bursting to be finished will be that much closer to completion and release into the world.