It’s about me.
I’m on the steep grass hillside up the Ute Ridge trail looking north. Gunnar is next to me, sitting, watching. Haven’t seen another person since I left the ranch. There are big fat clouds randomly shading the open expanse of water and the cradling hills on either side. Not dark clouds. They hold no weight. I don’t think it’s going to rain. With all this wind whipping the earth dry again, I sort of wish it would. I packed a jacket just in case. You can’t see far. The last mountain range is blurring into obscurity by blown up sands or silt from the charred hillsides down river.
I think the last time I was here was when we silently watched the smoldering remains of the Papoose Fire on the other side of the Rio Grande Reservoir. Seems like a long time ago. This time last year. There were no cars on the road when I looked down then like there are now, leaving a trail of pale brown dust in their wake long after they have passed.
Random notes on the Season and Life.
Big snow banks getting small. The river is going down. Now it’s as high as I’ve ever seen high waters in the dozen years before this. June winds so strong we hope the outhouse doesn’t blow over again. My skin is wind burned and eyes are bloodshot from working out there in it all day and there is too much to do to stay inside.
Progress on the new cabin. The floor joists are measured carefully, cut in the wind with sawdust flying, and securely screwed in place, blocked and insulated. I can’t wait to start with the logs. Almost there…
We’re a good team. Not a day passes without my thinking I’m the luckiest lady alive to be out their building a home with my boys. A real home this time.
Nineteen degrees in the morning and those spectacular wild iris on pasture froze, gave up and surrendered, folding over purple face down. Up here, it’s hard on wildlife, harder still to garden.
Roaring wind and raging
A fervent embrace
From the wild beast
While around me
Remains of last
Circle about courting me
In a whirlwind dance
Of tangled life and
Before me on the little table that contains three steaming coffee cups, remnants of last night’s dinner, our open laptap computers, and promises of the breakfast to come. And in that clutter, my proof copy of The Last of the Living Blue! It’s beautiful – what a wonderful job NorLights Press has done again. Thank you, Sammie. Some time between setting the plywood over floor joists and riding in to check the ditch, I’ll read (at least, skim) it over one more time (yes, one more damn time… by tomorrow) and then off it goes to press. Yippeee!
Oh, so that part about me?
Well, it started with this.
At the Tattered Cover event last week where I was promoting my first book, The Color of the Wild. The event, on a side note, and much to my surprise, was quite fun. A super big THANK YOU to all those who joined me, turned out, showed support, listen and talked with me, and to the many wonderful new faces I was able to meet. Anyway, in the presentation, I touched on this, with regards to writing memoir:
“Memoir is a medium for sharing intimate views – in my case, besides my views of nature, I share glimpses into personal issues, losses, pain, sadness. And growth and good stuff too. Memoir allows introspection both for the reader and the writer… Sharing your world, exposing oneself, bleeding with words on paper… Ultimately, it all ends up being about words. I want my words to sound good. I want my writing to read well aloud.
“Yes, the story is about me. It’s my story, my view.
“On the other hand, memoir opens odd doors of others hoping/wishing/assuming it’s about them, so you learn to leave their concerns and comments behind, and focus on what you set out to do.”
Bottom line: This is my story. And most importantly, I hope, a well written one.
Alas, here I am with my second book coming out end of the month, something I humbly consider an achievement and accomplishment, and from what I’m seeing in the reviews and reception, it is well done. But around these parts, I’m more likely to hear, “Oh no, you’ve written another book” rather than “Right on, you’ve written another book.” Interesting. So much for celebrating and sharing in your victories. Sad but true.
The truth comes out. Who really cares about you? And… what kind of people are they, anyway?
Fortunately, part of growing up is choosing. I’m so grateful for the loving, caring, supportive family, friends and readers I do chose, and who have chosen me. Thank you. If I haven’t told you all before, I’m also so thankful for the kind notes those who have been touched by my writing have taken the time to share with me. That is the reason we write, share our words and world. That makes it all worthwhile.
Maybe you have heard that blood is thicker than water, as if that would solve matters, demand forgiveness, and make dysfunctional families okay. It doesn’t work for me. I can’t help but wonder: Since when is thick a good thing, a compliment, something to strive for, a positive personal quality?
Sometimes, blood is simply stickier than water. Know when to wash your hands.
12 thoughts on “It’s about me.”
Self promotion is a killer. I’m attaching one of my last blogs. See below.
Trying Too Hard – Another Lesson in Surviving Depression
I often find myself trying too hard. I know I’m happier when I stop obsessing on how to make things better. Like they say, “Better is the enemy of good.” Preoccupation with a task is like putting on ear protectors, unfortunately muffling what the other person is saying.
Trying too hard can make one unhappy. This contradicts my prison ministry blog “The Directed Life” which suggests that persistence in one’s endeavors, also defined as “sticktoitiveness”, can lead to success. The problem is when that persistence leads to inattentiveness, when our focus on succeeding overwhelms our ability to listen and communicate with others. We become so preoccupied with our thoughts, we tune out. This is not good when your wife is trying to tell you something. When that happens, it’s time for a change.
Self-promotion makes me uncomfortable. My father, because of his bipolar illness and constant need for recognition, talked about himself and his accomplishments to the point of driving everybody around him slightly crazy, me included. Promoting my web site, memoirs and volunteer secular prison ministry program requires self-promotion. There lies the conflict between striving and moderation. Trying too hard creates stress, something I should avoid. During the worst of my depression, I worried constantly why I felt the way I did, even coining a self-deprecating expression for my behavior, “Obsessive Compulsive Introspection or OCI”.
I had recently fallen again into the trap of taking myself too seriously, becoming lost in the task of trying to do better. My preoccupation was dominating my thoughts. Unable to compartmentalize and segregate my activities, I had flooded the playing field rather than just watering the grass. I don’t want to give up helping people with my writing and prison ministry, but too much focus on improvement is addictive. “Help”, I’m saying to myself. “This guy is driving himself crazy.”
With all my experience with depression, I should be smarter than that. With all my good advice to others, why is this motivational speaker forgetting the message? I had to bounce this off my peers to get their perspective. Peers to the rescue! Last weekend, twenty men from my Universalist church played hooky from our normal weekend obligations of family, household chores and even church. We drove to an idyllic site in western Connecticut for our annual men’s retreat. We carried with us the weight and concerns of our normal lives. On arrival, we warmly welcomed each other. We initially forgot about our cares in an atmosphere of sharing, honesty and camaraderie. When we left the retreat, we were changed, our minds in a different place than when we made our journey to the retreat.
At the retreat, I did a lot of bouncing. I talked honestly to a number of people, some close friends and some just acquaintances. The theme of the retreat was balancing work (in my case promoting and volunteering), family and self. I already knew that I didn’t have to give up on my volunteer and promotional activities, but I had to make a cleaner mental break between those activities and my life. I had to compartmentalize my volunteer and family activities and thoughts, especially stop being annoyed when my wife interrupts my train of thought.
I’m putting this piece down and forget it for the rest of the day. When my wife comes back from shopping, I’m going to give her a big kiss and ask her how her day is going. After lunch, I’m going to swim 30 laps in my athletic club pool. Tomorrow is my volunteer prison program, not today. Putting things into perspective, my problems are miniscule compared to what the guys in my class are dealing with. Oh yes! I’m also going to listen to my wife very attentively next time she interrupts my train of thought. I’ve thought about buying her an air horn to get my attention, but that is a little over the top.
Just writing this down, and laughing at myself, has helped a lot.
Dick Sederquist Author
Oh Dick – a wonderful example here of: WELL SAID! (and beautifully written)
DEAREST GIN, I FEEL ANOTHER SAD TIME COMING ON….PERHAPS FROM THE HIGH OF YOUR TATTERED BOOKSTORE EXPERIENCE…
AS WE SAID IN HORSE RACING, “WHAT GOES UP, MUST COME DOWN.” SO MUCH DESERVED BUILD UP, PLEASE YOU DESERVE TO TAKE A BOW AND I AM SO VERY HAPPY TO HEAR IT ALL WENT WELL.
I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO BE THERE NEXT TO YOU, HUGGING YOU….REMEMBER, YOU AND YOUR BOYS HAVE ANOTHER FAMILY HERE THAT TRULY APPRECIATES , MISSES YOU AND PRAYS THAT YOU ALL, INCLUDING FORREST AND GUNNAR, RETURN TO A FRESH, NEW LIFE! YOU ALL BELONG HERE, TOO…I LOVE YOU, GIN. AND WE NEED YOU ALL, A FAMILY…STRONG AND HEALTHY!!
Oh my dearest Ginny – what a wild roller coaster ride life is, and at times I long for the stability, some even ground, though I have come to believe as I am certain you do too – I wouldn’t want to miss ANY of it! The ups and the downs. As long as we have each other to help pick one another up when we find ourselves very, very soon. I miss you, I miss the soft sands and strong winds and Alcides’ mischievous grin and silly little Charlie and the sense of home there with greater simplicity and purity than anything I have tasted and savored and can’t get off mind… like being in love with two men, so it is with these two lands, two places I feel home, and two families I have chosen.
That’s a wonderful post from Dick, and a great reminder to slow down and stop obsessing about books! There is more to life than books. . .
Yet, I’m very excited about Gin’s new book and look forward to sending out review copies. If you’re interested in reviewing The Last of the Living Blue, just let us know.
There was something I read last night from Natalie Goldberg who thought maybe for her writing was an addiction. No, she learned, not an addiction, but a passion. Indeed it is for me. Passionate! Obsession? A little bit. But passion, most certainly.
I am in awe of that moon rising! Please tell me you were howling as you were taking that photograph.
It is about you, your words, your life, your path. You have the ability to chose who walks this life with you. Holding true to that choice doesn’t make it any easier when someone, blood related or not, is threatened by your strength and incredible ability to write. I am so grateful those less supportive have not knocked you off this path. Your words are a gift to you, and to so many!
In my strength and stubbornness, those who have TRIED to knock my off my path only make we work harder. maybe I should be thanking them :)
And oh yes indeed, if I knew how to type a good howl, I’d share that with you! And although we don’t have wolves here, you should have hear the coyotes this morning – beautiful song, indeed.
Wow – when you go, you GO! I like that about you – a lot. So here you are, with two books, a home rising from ashes and beetles, beloved 2 and 4 leggers all around you and a forever ditch to conquer!
Well! Where is this gonna go? More diligent unfolding.
I haven’t been around the blog world much…two University courses and a spiritual undertaking have kept me well stimulated and expressing myself in an odd, but welcome, partnership of intrinsic and academic.
Gin, you’ve really have accomplished so much. These grand milestones would be huge enough if you had all the mod cons handily around you. What you have done is monumental.
But then, when I think back to Color of the Wild, this IS your modus operandi.
And who cares what any others think. My teachings say to let go of both criticism and praise. To have peace, neither is given the power to influence what is done to fulfill soul and purpose. In so doing, there is freedom to love.
I LOVE your phrase about the stickiness of blood. When push comes to shove, I’ll be lying on my deathbed thinking, “yep, it always has been just me and You. Get ready for this next me.”
I can’t wait for your new book! Your life is amazing and humbeling. I love viewing the mountain from your eyes – particularly when you are describing the JOY you are finding/sharing. Everyone has the hardtimes and heartaches, each in their own ways, but shaing the joy you find in the simple things makes me want MORE, MORE, MORE!
Yes, Sheri! Yes, it is both! Life, love, all that good stuff. It’s all got a dark side too. That’s the problem with fairy tales, and the strength of memoir – it shares the reality. There is always both. That’s what makes it real and what makes us stronger. Thing is, at the end of the day, hands down and without a doubt, the good always outweighs the bad!
Oh Amy – I do love your insight, wisdom and perspective. I miss you with your hands full with University, and expected as much (both that I’d miss you, and that you’d be too busy to keep up regularly). You know the expression about our friends being the family we choose, and part of growing up is making choices… I somehow doubt you’ll be alone on your death bed! I’ve known enough people with BIG families that ended up far more alone than those who just learned to chose to care.