Perhaps, it seems a little odd to be thanking Thankvember….
But, maybe it was odd that I even attempted this blog hop, in a month where I was also doing the ROW80 and NaNoWriMo challenges, and in which I have the children’s homeschooling reports to compile and submit.
I undertook this challenge, along with the other large projects I was already involved in, because I feel that gratitude is always important, and makes my life richer and more joyful.
So, although I struggled to complete all the posts before midnight on the 30th,(as I type this into my word processing program, my clock reads 11:00 PM, and it is now November 30th), and I have not managed to get all of my posts in daily, but, far more often, in bits and batches, I have not regretted the extra challenge.
I’ve been afforded a reason to consider and list some things I am grateful for, and to share them with you.
Things have been a bit too hectic, writing-wise, to allow me to visit other Thankvember bloggers this month…but I will be visiting, as soon as the reports have been submitted.
I’m looking forward to that – to reading what others are thankful for!
And that gives me something else to be grateful for!
Since these pictures are so evocative of the experience, I will let them do most of the talking, and simply saying that we are all grateful for the Victorian Street Walk, Saratoga being only a short drive from us, beautiful window displays, costumed strollers, musicians, many dogs, reindeer, lights, kettle corn, and a very pleasant late November night perfect for strolling…
The children and some window scenes…
Dancing in the street, and enjoying some official strollers, and architecture, even if something went funky with the camera, and the lights came out streaky!
A giant metal pig, lovely jewelry, and a joyful evergreen display.
Traditional Spanish treats, carolers, kettle corn in the making, and more storefronts.
Jeremiah, Annalise, and two anonymous reindeer.
Rocking horse and more architecture, evergreen tree, kettle corn kids, Sorrow for the closed-forever Borders, and the traditional Saratoga Peppermint Pig.
Wreaths and boughs, a cute cupcake, more windows, more impressive architecture.
More funky lights and the full moon, and a lovely Asian arch.
Oh, yes – I said Spock. I could say that it’s the logical thing to do at the time, paying grateful tribute to my favorite half-Vulcan, fictional though he may be.
For anyone who knows me at all well, this won’t be very surprising. For those who’ve read at my blogs for the last several years, the following excerpt will perhaps be familiar, as it was first published at The Unfettered Life.
~~ At 13, I discovered Star Trek. Well, really, I discoveredSpock. Fell in love with him, with the idea of a character so complex and conflicted, who was also brilliant, fierce, logical, and capable of huge deviations from that logic. And who was still somehow whole. I had to learn all I could about him, then write more stories for him…I’ve been doing that ever since.
Spock gave me an anchor, and a direction. That type of calm was unknown in my life, before him. I know he’s a fictional character, but he was believable in both his Vulcanity and his humanity. He gave me hope that there could be calm and peace in my life, too, no matter that I was sometimes furious.
For the outcast teen I was, so different in so many ways from my peers, he was a friend, a confidant, and a guide to lead me into the type of adult world that didn’t interest my parents.
Now, at the age of 40, I hear a familiar, calming voice on a BMW ad, and it leads me to ponder where I might be now if I’d never heard that voice, never known that character who brought so much solace to difficult years in my life, and has remained to intrigue and inspire me further…
Someday, neither Leonard Nimoy or I will be alive anymore. I am grateful that at least part of our living overlapped, so I could have a voice in my life that led me to places and thoughts I might not have known, else…
Wherever you are, on this last night of 2009, Leonard, I quietly lift a hand in salute, and say, simply, “Live long, and prosper.” ~~
And, because I love Spock so much, I wrote about him again, here at shanjeniah, this time…
I had seen him around a few times, ever since I was maybe 7 or so, and I knew his voice, in other contexts. He was like a neighbor whose face, car, and house I recognized, but about whom I knew nothing of consequence.
Except that that voice could draw me from anywhere, when I heard it, and it spoke things I couldn’t yet understand to my wounded soul.
Until I was 13, and my best friend, after much attempted persuasion, pressed a book into my hand and said, “Just read the first story, before you refuse to read more.” I had a long tradition of fiercely resisting things she was certain I would enjoy.
I read it, and I was hooked. Deeply and passionately in love with with a fictionalhalf-Vulcanwho managed, even with his brain severed from his body, to solve the problem of (however improbably), getting it back where it belonged.
I have never gotten over that passion. I love Spock, and I always will.
The relationship, however one-sided it may be, has grown with me, and the teenage lust has given way to a deep and abiding – well, I guess the appropriate word would be fascination.
Because of Spock, I learned that I could be smart and still be fallible. I could have integrity of self. I could live according to my internal compass rather than rely on external factors to define my life for me. I learned that I could sacrifice myself for the greater good – and that I could hope that, on occasion, others might think my well-being was the greater good, even when logic didn’t agree.
I learned that one can be stronger, but does not need to use their strength to bully or force others. I began to see that sometimes there is a gift in silence, and in the subtle shifts of expression.
It was from Spock that I first learned that there was a possibility of mastering my emotions, or at least of not being so utterly ruled by them as everyone around me seemed to be. In time, I became able to step back within myself, breathe, and attend to my feeling more of the time, allowing me to take necessary or desired action with less reactivity, at least most of the time.
I learned that while there are things worth killing and dying for, and a time when only force can act as defense, striving for understanding and compassion generally avoids coming to such dire straits.
I learned that passion is uncontrollable, sometimes, and must simply be given in to, and allowed to run its natural course.
I learned that there are always possibilities, and most of the trick in seeing them is recognizing that fact.
I cut my writing teeth on Spock, creating terrible plots and merrily defiling characters, logic, and even possibility, all in an erotic quest for my Vulcan, and largely conducted in high school classrooms, or on the bed in my unhappily shared bedroom – a vital escape that kept my mind from stultifying, and disengaged me from at least some potential sibling conflict.
I know that fan fiction is frowned upon in serious circles –
And yet I know that a rich and vital world has sprung up in my life over the nearly 3 decades I have shared with Spock, and I know that, without him, I would not have this remarkable world for my subconscious to play in.
I would not be leading the life that I am, because Spock showed me the way to courage. I would not have the husband I have, because it was Spock who first showed me how to risk taking a flying leap off the deep end of logic, when that was needed.
I would not write as well as I do, for it was in reading back and seeing how badly I had corrupted the character I love more than any other, that I began to learn to never force my stories to comply to my ideas, but rather to be a faithful observer and narrator of those stories, without interfering in them.
There are always possibilities.
And, with Spock tucked firmly and logically into my soul, I will continue to find them, and live them.~~
Even with all of this, I am sure I’m nowhere near finished writing about Spock – factually, or fictionally.
Today, though, I just want to pay quite logical Thankvember tribute to a truly fascinating character, who has become something far more – and not only in my life.
When was the last time you truly challenged yourself?
If it’s been a while, what are you waiting for?
It seems to me that I have always thrived on challenges – just not the challenges others set for me.
I’ve always been the type of person who preferred blazing my own trail (or, more often, simply leaving the trail to wander around in the wild places, looking and listening). When others impose their expectations and demands upon me, I tend to settle into an almost rock-like immovability.
I spent all of my childhood, and a good deal of my adulthood, trying to camouflage my inner tendency toward passive resistance, all the while finding my own subversive ways of setting challenges for myself that I truly felt inspired by.
When I was six and seven, I had personal breath-holding challenges in the bathtub, by submerging my head for as long as I was able. I never told my parents I was doing this; it was a way, quite simply, to challenge myself privately, without anyone else claiming any part of my private, victories and defeats.
When I was ten, a friend and I spent nearly all of our fifth grade year drawing horse pictures – a passionate, two-person challenge that evolved into other drawing for us both, and lasted, on and off, through high school.
At thirteen, the same friend introduced me to Star Trek, and, soon, we were creating mock consoles. This led to “graffiti boards”, and then to short story segments that we exchanged and played with.
In time, those story snippets became full fledged tales – what we did not yet know was fan fiction. We kept several going at once , sometimes filling entire notebooks with our side of the story, and mucking about in each other’s plots in a reflection of the power struggle that existed in our relationship at that time.
We generally wrote throughout the day – school was not often intellectually challenging; and, even when it was, it was seldom the type of challenge I preferred for myself. Of course, teachers were not inclined to consider this a good idea – many of them required note-taking, and nearly all wanted students at least to present the image of paying attention, and students who could answer questions and pass tests despite being clearly otherwise occupied were often seen as an affront, if not an outright violation.
In order to forestall problems, we each developed a code alphabet, so that our stories could not be easily translated. Even when our notebooks were examined, our words were unreadable.
Now, though, I am an adult long since, and I have, through deep and numerous personal challenges, come to a space where I claim my life and the right to set my own challenges – challenges that reflect who I have been, who I am in this moment, and who and what it is that I aspire to become.
I began these posts with an expression of appreciation forA Round of Words in 80 Days, but, although that has been my most intensive challenge during the last year, it hasn’t been the only one.
It’s been a challenging year – and I mean that in the best of ways, mostly. Aside from Jim’s serious motorcycle accident, most of my challenges are ones I chose: growing and deepening, on many levels, for myself, and honoring my deepest passion – writing.
As part of the framework for my four ROW rounds, I have undertaken several other larger, “official” writing challenges, which I am going to list below, so that I can spend a moment basking in the glow of my bravery and daring:
What truly matters, to me, is the striving – the deciding to give my energy to projects that was not required in any way, and then to plan and move forward, always assessing whether the energy and striving are truly serving me in living in accordance with my own purpose.
As I was finishing this article, I validated my NaNo 2012 draftand was proclaimed a winner – but even that is not the point.
What truly matters is the process of creation, and the 56,000 word first draft that has fired my imagination, fueled my growth, and delighted my passions.
That’s always the case, for me. Simply undertaking a challenge for no other reason than that I wanted to always brings inner riches, rewards, and learning.