Posted in Uncategorized

ROWing with my Nature…Goals Update #8

Jeremiah baked his first cake this week.

It’s another Sunday, a ROW80 goals update day, and the second -to- last day of April – which just seemed to vanish, this year, for some reason.  Maybe because I have been very intent and focused on a great many areas, and the focus kept me at a heightened state of intensity.

At any rate, I feel a swell of growth, deepening,  new energy, and ideas surging up within me. The wave hasn’t quite broken the surface yet, but it is close.

I’ve been laying the groundwork, and, to some extent, getting my affairs in order.

A Random Animal asleep in her nest.

I have been in the middle places in many of my projects, and that can be a time prone to boredom and even stagnation, for me.  So, I  did the only logical thing I could do.

I finished a thing or two, and began a thing or two, and have plans for more finishings and beginnings in the upcoming days.

For me, beginnings and finishings are the cataylst that stirs everything up. They require more focus and attention than the smoother, coasting flow of the middle of things. There is a shift in energy, and there may even be snags and other hidden pitfalls.

Jeremiah creates Scratch computer animation - he was making a movie.

The just-begun is newness. It adds new thoughts to the melange of flavors already stewing within me; new connections are very often forged, and there is a certain energy that makes me alert, like a Huntress, aware of nuances I might otherwise miss.

And finishings……

For so long, I was a person without endings. As the volume and diversity of my goals might show to those who favor only one or two, I love to begin.

Growing up....

The thrill, the unknown, the potential becoming kinetic, all thrill me. It’s a joy ride, plain and simple.

But, when the newness wore off, instead of cherishing the well-worn venture as I do a pair of jeans that’s known my curves a while, I would, for many years, just drop that project and go seeking some new passion, until I tired of it, too….

It’s a pattern I am very familiar with.

Annalise's Scratch animation Animal Battle.

My family-of- origin has a particular characteristic shared by several members – to always be purchasing some major item, or effecting renovations, or adding rooms to their homes…

As soon as the project is complete or the new item ensconced in their lives, it seems, they are setting about making plans for the next acquisition or project.

There never seems to be a time of just enjoying what has just come to be. Always, the focus is on what’s next.

"See my uvula?"

School was that way, too. Learn this. JUST this. No, we can’t go any deeper into it than that; we need to move on to the next thing. Why? Because the curriculum says so. Whether I had a deep passion for what we were moving on from, or a complete disinterest in what we were moving on to, was of no importance at all. Move in we did, in lockstep, or as close to it as could be managed.

I have never been able to resist the quest for the new – learning lies there, and juicy aliveness. I have discovered that I can, though, use this need for the new to give me further impetus to roll through the coasting middles of other projects.

First-ever game of Zoo Tycoon.

I love a pace that flows with my own ebbs and flows, and that has things in varying stages of doneness. The finishings bolster me; the middles roll on, carrying me along with a gentle, natural  flow; and the beginnings are the rapids that stir everything up, mixing it all together…..

So, all these disparate elements create an organic, living rhythm that draws me in, offers a balm, an impetus, or a ripe fruit as I need it. I can be methodical or random, or a little of each. I can flow through the pondering times and explode into activity and a spate of beginning and finishing when my energy is full and wild.

Girl in the lilac bush....

It all looks and feels a little chaotic, disorganized, and haphazard – but then, I’m not unaware that so does the rest of our unschooling lives, to those who aren’t comfortable of familiar with how organic learning and partnership parenting function.

I have always been comfortable with some chaos in my life – so long as it’s a happy and productive and passionate chaos. Too much order isn’t natural, and I tend to be more comfortable with all things in their natural states.

So, welcome to the lush chaos of my writing life – wander freely, and enjoy, and perhaps take away a bit of wild energy for your own use!

Round 2 Goals:


  • Read at least 3 articles a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • I read about the Easter Island Statue Project, which is inspiring a swirling of story thoughts.  I shared it on my Facebook Writer Page.
  • I have attained this goal for this week.


  • Create flash fiction, short stories, dialogues, character sketches, alternate scenes, and poetry for  Chameleon’s Dish.  Wander cow trails, and learn these people and their lives more fully.
  • I have written some description and setting for the group dialogue scene I am in the midst of.  This is likely to alter the tenor of the piece, but that is the point of this play. =)
  • Pull material from 750 words posts not part of the Chameleon’s Dish first draft.
  • I pulled a complete entry from my June 2000 posts to use as the introduction to this goals update.
  • Create essays, stories, and other pieces based upon these writings.
  • As noted above, I used a post pulled from this source as the intro to this update.
  • Find all chapters of Blood and Breath.  Input into Scrivener; possibly begin rewrite.
  • I have decided to change this goal. I will instead be gathering the chapters of **Chameleon’s Dish** and inputting them into Scrivener in preparation for next round’s rewrite.  
  • Meanwhile, I will continue to create the story arc for Blood and Breath, as well as writing flash fiction pieces which will become the basis of the scenes.
  • So, this goal will now be two goals, which will read as follows:
  • Input all chapters of Chameleon’s Dish into Scrivener in preparation for ROWnd 3 rewrite.
  • I have found the place in my NaNoWriMo writing where Nockatee fisrt revealed herself to me, and placed it whole into a LibreOffice file.
  • I am excited to have the birth of a novel so carefully recorded.
  •  I am going to edit it and share it, even if it IS Star Trek fanfic.
  • Complete the story arc for Blood and Breath. Begin writing flash fiction pieces which will be the basis of the scenes in the next rewrite.
  • I have reformatted the early chapters into bulleted points lists.
  • I have added a bulleted points list for Chapter 4.
  • Finish father-in-law letter and send.
  • I have begun a revision of this letter that is based upon logic and not defensiveness.
  • I am not hurrying through this process.  I want the letter to be matter-of-fact, no-nonsense, firm but not unkind.
  • I am willing to take all the time I need to accomplish that goal.

  • Complete the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
  • I have completed the collages to use in my Z is for Zoo post.
  • All collages are now watermarked  and ready to be imported to the post.
  • The post had been completed, embellished, and scheduled…
  • This goal has been attained!
  • Complete Cooperative Catalyst post and relevant links (interviews with both children, and their “day in the life” posts from last year) ; submit to editor.
  • I  finished updating Annalise’s “Day in the Life” post.  
  • This leaves just editing the main post, and embellishing Jeremiah’s “A Day in the Life” post, and then I will contact the blog editor to see where to go from there.
  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • I skipped doing either of the flow charts for Thursday – I felt like working on other things.
  • I submitted Watersdeep’s Edge to #Friday Flash, here, as per my flow chart.
  • Add pages/ edit sidebar layout on shanjeniah.
  • I have completed and posted a new page, Your Soapbox Awaits.  It will be a home away from home for guest bloggers, with their posts, bios, and links to whichever blogs they wish to share here.

  •   Explore She WritesTwitterStoryDamPinterest;and LinkedIn .  Use, develop, evaluate, adjust.
  • I invited more LinkedIn connections, accepted an invitation, added a photo, and expanded my profile.
  • I have begun posting status updates, links, and messages via LinkedIn.
  • I am feeling quite brave, and starting to feel more comfortable there.
  • I explored Twitter on Saturday, while using HootSuite.
  • Continue joining hops, fests, challenges, and other community blogging efforts.
  • As noted above, I submitted to Friday Flash.
  • Also as noted above, I scheduled my final Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
  • I will be participating in the reflection period which will begin on May 7.
  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • I am firming up the arrangements for the first of my guest blogger swaps.
  • I have created a page, Your Soapbox Awaits… for guest bloggers to hang their coats,put their feet up, and chat a while…
  • I am feeling some nerves and resistance about this goal.  Deep breaths.  Little steps.  Building momentum.

  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • Although not quite as nervous about submitting as I was last round, I still find myself resisting this process, and approaching it with apprehension. I’m glad I set my “quotas” higher, because I can’t think of a better way to work through the feelings that come up than by giving them more opportunities to do so….
  • I faced my emotional reactivity, and submitted my poem, 4AM Call, to the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.
  • I am hoping that this gets my momentum rolling, because I have 9 more flash fiction or poetry pieces to submit, this round!
  • Submit at least 5 essays or lists this round.
  • As mentioned above, I am working on the Cooperative Catalyst package, prior to final editing and contacting the blog editor.
  • I have added links and photos to all but one post.
  • I have done a complete read-through and course edit of the essay for this package.
  • Next, I will do a more complete edit, formatting, and smoothing-out run, prior to submitting.
  • I wrote a second version of my On Becoming a Blogger essay for the Anything Goes nonfiction column in the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.
  • I am much happier with this piece than the last one –  it feels far truer –  and will let it rest a day or three before beginning to revise.
Lilacs abounding!
  •  Organize all photos on hard drive/move to organized Picasa web albums or delete.
  • I have added the photos I downloaded from Facebook  for this week’s writing projects to a synced Picasa album, and deleted them from my Downloads file.
  •  I have also synced an album labeled To Process and Sort from my Dropbox folders, and deleted those photos from my hard drive, as well.
  • I will return and sort those photos after I have finished with all the photos on my hard drive.
  • Watermark all photos that appear on my blogs, and all those I post going forward; begin watermarking favorites not on blogs.
  • I have maintained my preference for small beginning steps by watermarking the three photos that appear in the post I am editing in The Unfettered Life.
  • Watermarking the photos used in that blog will be simpler than the process for this blog, as there is one dedicated Picasa Web Album file for all of the photos that appear there.

  •  Explore marketing articles on my Facebook Writer Page.
  • I read this wonderful article on Author Platforms.
  • I will be returning to read the second article in this series.
  • Add useful articles to my shanjeniah  Marketing Articles page.
  • I added the above article to my Marketing Articles page, with a brief description.
  • Use this information to help define my direction; adjust as needed.
  • I am beginning to build a mental picture of the shape and scope of the writer platform I am constructing.
  • I am currently mulling several small steps, deciding which to implement, gradually, during the coming weeks.
  • I know already that all of my actions will be based upon passion, communication, and inner truth.  Nothing  is really relevant in my life, anyway, if it doesn’t include at least one of these.


  •  Get Scrivener  downloaded; begin learning by inputting first an essay, and then Blood and Breath.
  • I am changing this goal to reflect the reality of Blood and Breath’s missing chapters, and my decision to rewrite.
  • This goal will now be to input Chameleon’s Dish into Scrivener. which will also set me up for the rewrite I plan for the next ROWnd.
  • The new goal will read as follows:
  • Get Scrivener downloaded; begin learning by inputting first as essay, and then Chameleon’s Dish.
  • I have begin this process by transferring Chapter 8 of the NaNoWriMo version of Chameleon’s Dish, written in Quick Note, to a LibreOffice document.
  • Next, I will  reread the chapter, fix any obvious issues, and then break into component scenes for saving to Scrivener
  • Use Twitter and Tweetdeck at least one day a week.  Learn more.
  • I used Twitter via Hoot Suite on Saturday, which seems to be becoming my regular day to explore there.
  • I still can’t say it feels natural to me, or that I prefer it, but I do find it interesting and worth checking in from time to time.
Perfect bloom, perfect light...and I think I have finally figured out my macro setting!


  •  Edit all 2009 posts on  The Unfettered Life.  Consider layout and design changes.
  • I updated – watermarked pictures,  added captions, edited, and added tags – to my post, …And More Freedom.  
  • I am enjoying this process, and reading through posts that re nearly three years old – it’s an opportunity to celebrate how far I and my family have come.
  • Take clips from first Penzu notebook.
  • I have moved one entry to my Writing Bullpen.  A portion of it appears at the end of this post; the rest is the remainder of a memoir story of our most chaotic Thanksgiving as a married couple.
  • Input Blood and Breath and Chameleon’s Dish to Scrivener.
  • As mentioned above, I will be creating a story arc for Blood and Breath rather than inputting it into Scrivener.
  • I have formatted Chapter 8 (which will become Chapter 1; it’s complicated!) of Chameleon’s Dish, separating the scenes and naming each based on POV character.
  • Next, I will begin to input the chapter into Scrivener.
  • Clean up computer downloads, documents, photos, and other clutter – move it or lose it!
  • As mentioned above, I cleaned up my downloads, and a large picture file, To Process and Sort.

  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Thursday: Old-picture nostalgia; reading; writing; working in my library.
  • Friday:More old pictures, finishing the A to Z Challenge; mowing lawn.
  • Saturday: Special time with Jim, M*A*S*H; taking pictures; coffee and a long chat; staying home; hanging with the kids.
  • Sunday: More mowing; more photography; reading old writings; nostalgia feeding my nascent novel idea; time with kids, with Jim, and alone; sleeping in.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Thursday: Hometending.
  • Friday: More hometending.
  • Saturday: Hometending; dancing; mowed front yard.  Our home is located on the downslope of a shale ridge.  The entire yard is pitched, very steeply in some places, and mowing it with our push mower is a whole-body workout!
  • Sunday: More mowing.  Finished front yard, did side yard and a bit if the back.  More tomorrow if the weather holds.  Short walk to meet kids at their friend’s house.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • I was decorated with more calm than is typical for me when I am this hormonal, and also with a rosy complexion from working outside in the cool weather (which might account for at least some of my prevailing calm…..).
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Thursday: Old picture musings; scrapbooks with Lise; reading; allowing myself a mellow day.  Cleaned, organized, and simplified my night table top.  It’s very inviting and soothing, without all the accumulated clutter.
  • Friday:More old pictures; completing a long-term challenge, reading and writing; cleaned in my library.
  • Saturday: Jim!  Mowing; kid time; reading; writing; AND I SUBMITTED SOMETHING!!!  Taking pictures.
  • Sunday: More reading; writing; mowing; pictures.  Reading things I wrote years ago.  Being present in much of my day; serving my family with joy and purpose.
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Annalise: Listened to her reading; said yes to her walking on the road and to her friend’s house on the corner; lots of snuggles and talk; introduced her to Zoo Tycoon for the computer; bought her a copy for her 3DS.
  • Jim: couples time; dealt with garbage company conflict; let him use the car all week without sharing; hometending; mowing; talking (this is Jim’s list).  He says we can’t overrate that sex thing, though…
  • Jeremiah: Looked at  and photographed his Scratch animation art (he says he’s making a movie) ; snuggles; conversation; agreed to his longest-ever road walk; said yes to play at Ryan’s house; introduced him to Zoo Tycoon.
 Administrative Stuff:

  • Write and submit third quarter reports for both children.  These are due on June 1, 2012.
  • I have updated Annalise’s Reading section to reflect her very recent leap in skill and interest.
  • I have written her Writing/Spelling section
  • Cleanup email folders/organize, move, read, delete, act upon as needed.
  • I mercilessly winnowed my hugely swollen Leisure Time Reading folder from 398 messages to a far more manageable 20!
  • Input two writing practice notebooks to Penzu.
  • I am up to page 23 of 120 on notebook #1.
Corki and the mower....

Excerpt from my Writing Practice Notebook, December 1999…..WRITING FEARS AND CONCERNS

failure (outright and utter)

rejection letters

change in lifestyle

change in me

success (outright and fantastic)

not being good enough

not being seen for as good as I am

losing a life’s dream

having enough (or more than enough) money

My relationship with Jim changing or ending

losing my anonymity (LOVE that word)

falling on my face


Mystery bush in bloom!


“There is no reason for you to think you can make a living at writing.”


And there’s no reason NOT to think it, either


We are NOT desperate  for money, and I HAVE invested money in this goal.


I’m still planning to work.  Why NOT try?

Everyone should strike for their highest purpose.  I think writing is mine, whether I get paid for it or not.


…I like myself less when I’m not writing.  So I should write .


What does money have to do with writing, anyway?  


Jim makes enough money for us to live on.  


When I get pregnant, I’m going to need a hobby!


12/3/99 – 

“I’ll get serious about my writing AFTER…”

“…I have my tea.”

“..I’m awake.”

“…I make a sale.”

“…I get someone to tell me to.”

“…I put out the cat, walk the dog, and clean the house.”

“….I get the Christmas presents wrapped.”

“…I finish this book.”

“…I finish this book.”
“…I finish this article.” 

I just found this interesting…what has changed, and what has stayed the same…

Something to ponder….


Lise feet.....



Posted in 500 Words On..., Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Z is for Zoo

500 Words on……the Zoo.

~~Something tells me it’s all happenin’ at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it’s true...~~Paul Simon,At the Zoo

Air and Space Museum - first, quick visit, 45 minutes before closing time.

When Jeremiah was a few weeks away from his seventh birthday, he requested that we go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Setting up camp in Greenbelt National Park, Maryland...about 12 miles from DC.

Although we live a few hundred miles from Washington, DC, and our budget is comprised of a single income, Jim and I decided to see if we could make it happen for him. We found a campground a few miles away, in Maryland, and realized that we could stay for a lot less than what a hotel would cost us.

So, the early part of September found us in our nation’s capital. We toured the Air and Space Musuem, of course, and the Natural History Museum. We ate lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian, and admired their gardens. We rode the Metro, and toured the Hirshorn Sculpture Garden.

At the Museum of Natural History.

We visited the Capitol Building  – the tour was not suitable for 7 and 4 year olds, and the Bush era security required us to ditch all our food and even the water in our bottles – but we got to see the sculpture by Vinnie Ream that we had come for, and we learned a few things, and feasted our eyes on the art and splendor.

Capitol Building loveliness.

We saw the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool, and the Vietnam Wall.

Views about town - we walked a lot!

The children rode the carousel, played at the camp playground, and loved the subway…

Playful happy moments.

And, on the last day of our three day stay, we went to the National Zoo. Although Jeremiah loves animals, this part of the trip was for Annalise.  From the time she was one, she has loved all primates, and gorillas in particular.

Gorilla gorilla gorilla!

We had visited a zoo in Syracuse the summer before, where we saw primates of several varieties. Gorillas, though, are large, and endangered, and not easy to house, and there were none to see close to us. The National Zoo, also  famed for its giant pandas (which we never got around to seeing), has a gorilla family.

More scenes around the zoo....

So we entered at the archway, and spent half a day wandering the Zoo. We saw the hippos and elephants, first, and Jeremiah got to touch a hippo tooth. Then we found the gorillas – Annalise was awed and a bit intimidated by their bigness and closeness. We watched a magnificent silverback picking grass and carefully separating the blades he wanted to eat.

Cool explorations in the Invertebrate House.

There were orangutans who had the freedom to pass between two buildings on a specially designed device known as the O-Line. We watched them pass over us with a combination of fascination and nervousness, although there was an electrified line running beneath, to prevent descent.

At the Hirshorn Sculpture Gardens, enjoying art, and a bit more cool.

We enjoyed giant tortoises and other reptiles, tigers-SO-close on the other side of a Plexiglass barrier, lynxes and wolves. We watched a prairie dog village, and giraffes. The entire trip had been very hot, and we had spent the majority of it out-of-doors.

Capitol Building sculptures - the Vinnie Reams Lincoln is in the center.

So, when we found ourselves outside the invertebrate house, we ducked inside for the shade and the cool. There, both children were  enchanted by jellyfish and anemomes, coral and Madagascar hissing cockroaches, the bird-eating and orb-weaving spiders, and a little crab that followed Lise as she moved from one side of its tank to the other.

At the Smithsonian Castle, and in front of the Air and Space Museum.

We spent some time in the Think Tank, where primate intelligence was studied through a series of activities and experiments, and where there were many specimens for Annalise, especially, to explore.

At the Greenbelt National Park playground.

In the invertebrate house, we were able to watch the exhibit curators preparing specimens in a well-equipped lab.

Scenes from the Metro....

While we were outside, we enjoyed sprayer stations set up for cooling guests on hot days, and the kids enjoyed the prairie dog playground before we headed back to the campground for one last sleep before heading home.

Posted in 500 Words On..., Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Y is for Yelling

500 Words On…Yelling.

Yelling was an everyday occurrence, within my family of origin. With four children and two parents who hadn’t learned how to contain or rise above their rage, there seemed to always be some reason to yell at someone.

There were  times when my father went from child to child, asking questions that seemed designed to find us in some wrongdoing he could yell about. If he went through all of us without success, sometimes he would go through the process again – and, eventually, he either found or created a reason to vent whatever frustrations had driven the process.

There is much less yelling here, and what there is is generally short-lived and soon moved past. Nearly all the yelling there is is done by the children – when you are seven, or even ten, life can get too frustrating to take, very quickly, and yelling is a safety valve that prevents an explosion of a far greater magnitude.

I do the best I am able not to take the yelling personally – getting reactive and yelling back never helps, and usually makes things far worse, and it hurts my head, throat, and soul, besides.

Besides, it isn’t personal.  It’s just a young person, still relatively inexperienced at life and conflict, who is dealing with more than he or she can handle. The anger or hurt or frustration pour out, and sometimes the words that get used are hurtful – not because the child truly hates me, or their life, but because that is how they feel in this moment in time, and that feeling is too intense to allow them to realize, just then, that there will be love, peace, and joy again – and that they might only be moments away.

I’ve realized, over the last year or so, that, when I can remain in a place of love and calmness, neither feeding or ignoring the emotional chaos, but instead letting it pass through me like a stone through a deep still pool, it’s sometimes enough to help calm the tempestuous energies of the child, as well.

It’s a quiet way to say that I feel their emotional discord, and I still accept them. If the yelling was directed at me, I might say, softly but firmly, “I didn’t deserve that.”

And then, I go about my business, which seems to reassure both children that things are going to be all right – that they might be better than they thought.

Usually, the yelling child will take themselves to their room, to fling themselves on their bed.  Often, fatigue was the impetus for the yelling, and the child will be asleep within moments, to wake up happy and better-rested.

Other times, they will settle, and find a diversion. Miah might turn to a book, his 3DS, for games or a show on Netflix; Lise likes books, Littlest Pet Shop characters, and caring for her stuffed animals.

I don’t handle every episode as well as I might, but I keep learning, and each success grows the peace in our home.

Sometimes, I still yell – my ability to control myself is not yet as all-encompassing as I would like it to be.

I no longer excuse myself, not blame myself,  for that.

Instead, I keep learning, and healing – because I prefer loving, trusting peaceful life, and yelling isn’t a means to that end. =)

Posted in 500 Words On..., Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Writing Samples

X is for X’s and O’s

500 Words On….X’s and O’s.

First kisses - but far from the last!

There is a lot of kissing and hugging amongst our family. When I mentioned to Jeremiah recently that many boys his age didn’t want to snuggle with their parents anymore, and I am glad that he does, he looked at me as though I had three eyes.

“Really?” he asked.

Jeremiah is long past the age, now, where kisses on boo-boos have magical powers of healing.  Still, when he’s hurt or disappointed, he will find me and ask for a hug. I still seem to have some ability to act as a balm against the injuries his flesh and spirit are heir to.

Along with the hugs and the sloppy ten year old boy kisses, I get smiles, and laughter, and conversations I never could have had with my own parents, because I was busily trying to gain standing with them, being sure I didn’t step wrong, which could easily lead to yelling, hitting, and shaming.

Jammy-clad snuggles...Lise was not quite 3, here. =)

Kisses and hugs, in that family dynamic, were a weapon that might be withheld if a parent was angry – sometimes, for days on end.  I learned young to use them as tools, to try to curry favor.

Kisses and hugs came more and more sporadically as I grew, and, as an adolescent, my father seldom hugged me at all.

When I was younger, I was required to hug and kiss family members, even those I did not like. My feelings didn’t matter, so long as I did as expected, and allowed any related adult to take me into their arms and press their lips against mine – even when I didn’t trust them.

Here, the hugs and kisses are just a natural part of life. No one here is required to kiss or hug; and such shows of affection are common. There are hugs and greetings upon awakening, and, since our days do not include morning commutes or school, there are often lingering snuggles and tickles, too.

Miah, a week before he turned 10, rushing to give me a hug after I sang at NEUC. A precious moment, captured by Adam Smith.

Along with that comes talk – lots and lots of talk. There is something about being snuggled in together, or just close beside one another, doing something together, that leads to easy conversation that often goes to depths and in directions that I could never have predicted or orchestrated.

There’s an openness in a family where the kisses and hugs flow easily and freely. Such freedom and openness are born of trust, and they build trust, warmth, and close connection.

Jeremiah will be eleven in a few months. He’s not a little boy anymore. His thoughts and interests are maturing. I can see that, in just a few years, he’ll likely be giving hugs and kisses to girls he’s interested in, as well as to his family.

And so I am soaking up this precious time in his life, just before he crosses the threshold into approaching manhood, and I treasure every kiss, every hug, because he is who he is, just now,  fleeting and wonderful, and I don’t want to miss it.

Yeah, this pucker's for YOU!!!
Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Life Writing, ROWnd #2

ROWing into the Surge – ROW80 Goals Update #7

It’s been a mellow and very creative few days here.  I’ve been giving myself to my writing, to reading, to hometending and family time, and, more than I have since  Jim’s accident, to myself.

It’s been renewing and I am emerging from my home-centric cocoon refreshed and feeling the surge of new understandings and ideas –

I’m not ready to talk about yet, for fear of freezing the blossoms before they’ve attained full bloom….

Instead, let’s just ROW along, skimming close to shore, feeling the coming of spring wrapped in the chill of winter’s lingering caresses…..


  • Read at least 3 articles a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • I read this list of 50 Life Lessons.
  • I read and reblogged because i, too, have a dream.
  • I have one more article to read to attain this goal for the week.


  • Complete the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
  • I have written and edited the text, and am lingering over an extensive and nostalgic array of photos, which I am turning into a series of collages.  

  • I am hoping to have this project finished by Friday, but have until midnight on Monday to post it, if need be.
  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • I have begun using the flow charts –  but not yet both each day.
  • On Monday, I began my first weekly review on The Unfettered Life.  It’s not complete, yet, but it is a beginning.
  • On Tuesday, I updated my Bookmark Break Challenge page to reflect my April reading.
  • I began a post for my Write 1 Sub 1 Monthly Challenge.
  • On Wednesday, I worked on my goals update post.
  • I hope to be  following both charts at least a few days a week by May.
  • Add pages/ edit sidebar layout on shanjeniah.
  • I have begun a page for guest bloggers.
  • I hope to have the page ready by Sunday’s check-in.


  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I have shared I is for Intuition and J is for Jeremiah to the ROW80 Facebook Page.
  • I have also shared my Unschooling Blog Carnival post. “I’m THAT Mom…Naturally!” to the ROW80 page.
  • As mentioned above, I have read and commented on several blogs.  I have been working my way through some of the many comments building up on my own blogs.  If you’re waiting, I am getting there! =)
  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • I have begun setting up a new page here, Your Soapbox Awaits…, which will become a home away from home for my guest bloggers.
  • I am in the process of contacting my guest bloggers, and those who have offered me places on their blogs.
  • I hope to at least have all the posts scheduled, if not posted, by the end of May.
  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • I  have reread and made notes for my flash fiction piece “The Coupling”.  I plan to have it ready for submission by May 1.
  • Continue submitting to hops, challenges, fests, etc.; at least 3 each month.
  • I have attained this goal for this month.

  • Learn how to watermark pictures.
  • This goal has been attained.
  • Watermark all photos that appear on my blogs, and all those I post going forward; begin watermarking favorites not on blogs.
  • I have begun watermarking the collages I will use in my Z is for Zoo blogpost.
  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Monday: The pleasure of a leisurely day at home; lingering talk; minor hometending.  Coffee and love.
  • Tuesday:  T’ai chi, singing in the car with the window down, all alone…taking the time to watch the hawk swoop low over the fallow corn field.  Reading and writing.  Working in my library.
  • Wednesday:  Reading, writing, collage-making, hometending, blue corn tortilla chips, snuggles with both kids.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Monday: Hometening.
  • Tuesday: T’a chi (first time since Jim’s accident)!; hometending, a little dancing.
  • Wednesday: Hometending and a little dancing.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • I cut my wavy and very forgiving hair on Tuesday, a first step in a several step process……stay tuned!
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Monday: Leisurely day with my family. Bliss.
  • Tuesday: T’ai chi!; car singing; solitude; writing and reading.
  • Wednesday: Working toward many goals, passionately!
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Annalise: Laughter, games; snuggles; reading together.
  • Jeremiah: Saying yes to his request to bake a cake,  chats, cuddles.
  • Jim:  Snuggles, coffee, and conversation.  Couples stuff.

 Administrative Stuff:

  • Input two writing practice notebooks to Penzu.
  • I am on page 20 of 12o  of notebook #1, June 2000.
It’s been a busy time, and productive, but in a quiet, calm, no-fanfare kind of way.Jeremiah baked his very first from a  box mix.  It took him two days to bake and frost it – he’s 10, and a friend’s invitation to play took precedence over baking.  And he’s growing fast –  an inch or so in the last few weeks –  he was up to the bottom of my chin, but now he’s just below my bottom lip, and I am not short….anyway, he’s sleeping more, these days, and the cake waited for frosting while he recharged.

Annalise began reading silently, here and there, and learned that she can now do a 100 piece puzzle.  She watched Tigers in the Snow and an episode of Nature that explored the wolves of Chernobyl.  She looked at first Elijah’s scrapbook   –  “There’s only three pages, Mommy” was her heart-tugging comment when faced with how brief a life 12 days is –  and then Jeremiah’s  “Seeing him as a little baby makes me feel older.”   And that, for a younger sister who chafes at being the littlest, is an evener, if only a temporary and fanciful one.

Being so close to 8 is hard on her, sometimes.  She seems to view it as the magical age of big-kidness, and early July seems both very close and very distant.

She wants a motorbike for her birthday, like the one her friend Ryan has.
I’ve found that I am even more serious about my writing since claiming a space for it.  Here, in the bedroom, where Jim and I have spent the majority of our intimate moments, where there is morning coffee and snuggles and ticklefests with the kids, and the TV and the amorous hijinks even middle-aged and long-married folks  can still get up to when they really like each other in a way that ignores baldness, creaky joints, and much extra padding, my mind wanders into imagery and symbolism.At my desk in my library, I am a more focused and businesslike version of me.  I’m relaxed, and peaceful – and the vibe is that I have things I want to do, and I am doing them.

The bedroom is for dreaminess and my library exudes purpose.

That’s good to know, as the surge comes up  on the bow….
And now,  for a few more of my followers…

And, last but not least, here’s the nifty little ROW80 Linky, where you can follow the other ROWers……

Posted in 500 Words On..., Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Writing Samples

W is for Wonder

500 Words On….Wonder.

I know some people who never seem to wonder. They are absolutely certain about a great many things, so certain, in fact, that their minds have closed completely to the possibility that they might not, in all truth, be correct in every circumstance.

And yet, there is a certain desperation in that type of stranglehold on an opinion or philosophy that suggests a lack of deep, true belief arrived at through one’s own experiences and reflection. There is a need to clutch and grasp at  one concrete version of truth, because too much of their perceived reality depends upon these things they believe to be true, and have based their lives upon.

And what they lose, in the process, is wonder. Not just wondering about whether other possibilities, greater joy, and deeper peace exist – but wonder.

All wonder.

The childlike wonder of living in the moment, of being enchanted, or delighted, or awed…

The wonder regarding the past, and whether there might be patterns or lessons there that can lead us to new understandings and deeper peace now, and in our futures…

Wonder about the present- the time spent pondering, musing, and composting, drawing new connections between what has gone before, and what may happen in the future, and if there is a possibility that we are living by precepts that are no longer true for us, trying to maintain relationships that are rigid, inflexible, and cannot sustain or nourish anyone involved, if the life we are living is one of our own conscious choosing, or the to-date result of living according to what we thought others expected, without ever really considering if this is what we ourselves want…

The type of wonder that allows us to ask if we are giving ourselves as fully as we can to our cherished ones, if we know them as fully as we are able, if we are connecting on a level that is mutually beneficial. Are we just going though the motions with them, or are we present in each moment, celebrating and reveling together through the happy times, and there to lend what support we can when life presents challenges…?

The ability to wonder if we’re giving enough of ourselves to ourselves, filling ourselves up from within, so that we have enough to share freely without risking our own peace and well-being….

The ability to evaluate all these things, and then to find a path to making needed changes, are vital to living a life that can joyfully evolve along with us….

This type of wonder opens us up in new ways, lets us see possibilities that are outside the expected, allows us to free our dreams from bondage and to dare to believe that we can attain them, the courage to step, timidly or boldly, away from the known and safe, to move alone across the country, to change the course of our parenting, our loves, our families, our careers,  our lives…

And, while we wonder, there will be delight, and sorrow, and a life lived with our blood and our souls pulsing through our wide-open veins, primed by the pumping of a full and joyful heart.