Tooting My Own Horn

Today is my 500th day in a row of blogging. I can’t say that I’m proud of everything I’ve written, but I am pleased that I have managed to keep to the discipline of a post a day for so long.

It is also my 222nd day of taroting. I know that’s not a word, but I’m not exactly studying the tarot, nor am I doing what is considered a reading. I am simply picking a card, making a note of all the various interpretations of each card so that when I use a tarot deck where the instructions are in an archaic form of Italian (as a couple of the decks are), I will be able to check my own notes for what each of those cards might mean.

If you don’t know why my interest in the tarot, it’s that I ended up with my deceased brother’s tarot collection, and I started my card-a-day practice as a sort of memorial to him. (In case you missed the posts where I talked about his decks, I have about four dozen different decks, some collectables, some common, some esoteric, and each month I pick a different deck to use to see if there is any one that will speak to me. So far, I haven’t heard a word from any of them.)

And today I’ve folded my 140th origami crane. My intent was to do one a day, thinking that by the end of three years I will have made my senzaburu (1000 origami cranes), but I find myself folding cranes whenever I have a few free minutes because the idea of all those cranes has captured my imagination. The legend is that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will have a wish come true or happiness and eternal good fortune. Since I have no particular wish (except to sell thousands of copies of Bob, The Right Hand of God), I’m aiming for eternal good fortune. Though to be honest, I tend to think I have that now, for which I am grateful.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to hedge my bet. Actually, I think the benefit comes in the folding rather than the finished senzaburu, but since it’s early days yet, I don’t know for sure.

I’ve also folded various other birds just for fun. Those I’m thinking of hanging in my garage to let me know where to stop and park.

This is all I have to toot about. These things are nothing special, really, except that I am doing them, and they all add up to a daily discipline, proving . . . I don’t know . . . perhaps that I’m alive and kicking and still going strong.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Accepting Life’s Challenges

It amazes me how some people are so accepting of life’s challenges, determined to enjoy every day as it comes no matter what else they must endure. A dear friend has been battling cancer, and after a crisis that entailed a visit to the hospital, she was told she has three to six months. She and her husband are accepting and cheerful, happy and grateful for each day given them, so I can do no less. When I get to see her, I too will be cheerful, happy, and grateful for the time together, will feel privileged to considered a part of the family, but beneath the cheer, my heart will be breaking.

Words from “Hurt,” a song written by Trent Reznor for the band “Nine Inch Nails,” but also poignantly sung by Johnny Cash keep going around in my head: Everyone I know goes away in the end.

Barring any unforeseen problems, traumas, accidents, illnesses, I could live many more years, perhaps decades. The problem with a long life is that everyone does go away in the end. There are always new people to meet (at least, I hope there always will be; after all, the nonagenarian woman I take care of has met me, and we’ve become friends), but that does not mitigate my sorrow for those who “go away.”

Oddly, this is the first friend whose death I will have to deal with. Most friends I lose go away in a less permanent way, or I go away.

But I don’t want to think about that. Like her and her husband, I want to focus on the happiness of the day. I want to be grateful for the joy she’s brought into my life, to be happy for the time we still have, to be accepting of life’s challenges.

But there’s still that poor, aching heart of mine to deal with and the tiny voice in the back of my mind that whispers, “It’s so not fair.”

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

So Much Gratitude!

I spent the morning cooking, which is something I rarely do anymore. I mostly do quick meals suitable for a single person, so I truly enjoyed the experience.

What did I make? Cranberry compote and chili. Odd combination, right? They both begin with “C” so that’s something they have in common! Other than that, not much.

I had to make a cranberry compote to take to dinner at a friend’s house tomorrow. (Cranberries, oranges, apples, honey and water.) And I needed to cook up a bunch of ground meat. Both the sausage and ground beef that my contractor brought yesterday were in pound packages, and because they were already frozen solid, I couldn’t cut them into smaller portions to freeze as I normally do. Hence, the chili.

I figure since I’ll probably be eating all sorts of treats tomorrow, I might as well get started by treating myself today, and since I make chili so rarely, it really is a treat. Even better, I can freeze it in meal-size portions for later on.

Although I know tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and although I will enjoy be celebrating the day with friends, it seems rather . . . I don’t know . . .  redundant. I give thanks every day for my good fortune in having this truly wonderful place to live. Whenever I look around, I see evidence of the help people have given me, whether they were paid or not. I see gifts — both new and hand-me-downs. Truly, other people’s discards are a treasure to those who appreciate them. I bask in the feeling of being home — in the house, in the yard, in the town, and with friends.

It’s hard not to be grateful when one is steeped in things which engender gratitude.

So although I will be thankful tomorrow, I’ll also be thankful today and tomorrow and all the tomorrows that come after that.

***

And oh, yes — on the top of my list of things I am grateful for is my newly published absurdist novel that asks, “What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God. Or you can buy the Kindle version by clicking here: Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

I Have a Secret

If you’ve known me long enough, I’m sure you can guess what my secret is. Although I try to take things as they come, am grateful for the blessings that tiptoe into my life, struggle to find a good side to any setback, the truth is, I hate this.

I hate that I fell and destroyed my arm and wrist so badly I won’t be able to do everything I once did. I hate that I am in pain and that from now on might always have to deal with pain. I hate that my arm is deformed. I hate that after almost five months, I am still struggling just to get through the days. I hate that getting the fixator off didn’t really change anything except that it catapulted me into a new and vastly longer time of pain and rehabilitation. I hate that Jeff is gone — somehow it seemed to me that after all the agony of his death, I would live a charmed life, because shouldn’t such a terrible thing be offset by an equal amount of joy? I especially hate that that particular conceit didn’t turn out to be true, and I now have to deal with not only his absence but also my increased vulnerability.

I tell myself all the things I’m sure you are thinking. I tell myself the injury could have been so much worse, and that is true. The force of the fall was so great, I could have broken my back or my neck or my face.  I tell myself I will get used to all of this, and that also is true — I will get used to it . . . eventually. I tell myself that just because we survive one horror in our life it doesn’t mean we are safe from other horrors. I tell myself that I am grateful for this time of healing, that I don’t have responsibilities clamoring for my attention. And I’m grateful for the friends who helped me in my need, for the readers who have offered support and comfort, for the doctor who tried to put my mushed wrist and shattered bones back together.

And yet, tonight, none of that seems to matter.

Luckily, there are only so many hours in one particular night, and soon this night will be over. I don’t suppose tomorrow will be much different from today, except for perhaps gaining the strength and courage to go on.

That, at least is one thing I do not hate — the ability to keep going despite the traumas that sometimes bow my back.

Here’s hoping will all have a good night and that tomorrow we’ll wake refreshed and able to shoulder the burdens — and joys — of the new day.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”) Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

My Writer’s Retreat

I’ve been wondering if I should do some sort of writer’s retreat to get me back into writing fiction, and as it turns out, all unknowingly, I created my own retreat. Last weekend, beginning Thursday afternoon when my last dance class was over until Monday when the first class of the week began, I did nothing but indulge myself. I started the days with my old workout, the stretching routine and weight training that fell by the wayside when I started taking dance classes. And I worked on my book. Not the whole weekend, of course, because I am not one of those who can sit down and write for the entire day — I need to do a lot of thinking about where to go next — but I did a couple of sessions each day. Even better, I ate only the food I had in the house — good food, no junk. — so I never had to leave my retreat. Best of all, my next room housemate was gone, so I had nothing but quiet (and a bathroom to myself) the entire time. Ah, joy!

A couple of weeks ago, I had experienced a day where I felt blessed, and that feeling has been with me all this time. I have been magnifying the mood by paying attention to the moment because the power of our lives is in the moment. And I’ve been cultivating gratitude, though that particular discipline is not hard to do — tballoon2here is so much in my life to be grateful for in any given moment.

During these blessed weeks, my internal conflict about where to go and what to do has faded because I have made commitments to continue with dance classes at least until the end of the year, to build up my strength, to refrain from worrying. (I worry more than I should about what is to become of me and how I will support myself in my soon-to-be old age.) And so I let the air out of all my conflicts (which is why I haven’t had much to blog about).

I joined an online writing group where the only requirement is to write 250 words a day. It’s a month-long commitment, but every month, I can recommit, which is what I plan to do at least until the end of the year. Even a writer who plods as slowly as I do can manage 250 words in a couple of hours. I usually spend the first hour reading the previous chapter to get in the spirit, to take into consideration past story actions, and to plan the next move. And I still have time to grab 250 words from the vortex of my mind, and sometimes a lot more!

I’ve never been one to write by word counts, so the count in itself is unimportant, but the commitment is. (Oh, who am I kidding. Having written 5,000 words in a week feels great!)

This weekend’s writing retreat will be different than last week’s because I will be performing with my class at a luau on Saturday, but that is still in the realm of creativity.

Dancing, writing, living. Ah, life is good in the moment.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

Taking “Z” Things With Gratitude

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

All this month, I’ve been taking with gratitude some of those things I often take for granted — an entire alphabet’s worth! Since today is the twenty-sixth day of this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “Z” things.

I am especially grateful for:

zany hatZaniness. There is not enough zaniness in the world. There is plenty of idiosyncrasy and unconventionality, but these are so often serious choices and serious pursuits without the fun and amusement that are necessary for zaniness. Still, there is some zaniness in the world, for which I am grateful, and in the coming years, I will do my part to add to that zaniness, if by nothing else than my amusing hats.

Zebras. I am grateful for zebras and other mythical creatures. I call zebras mythical because although they are supposed to exist, I have never seen one. I’m not a big fan of zoos (another Z!) since I can’t bear to see anyone or anything caged, but I am grateful for zoos because someday, perhaps, I will be able to see such a beast.

Zeal. I am grateful that I can still muster up enough zeal to start such projects as this alphabet of gratitude.

Zenith. And I am grateful for the zenith (meaning culmination) of this project. I’m not sure I learned much from it, nor am I sure it made me any happier, but at least I pondered for a few minutes each day about what to take with gratitude. So many things for which to be grateful. Such a wonderful world!

Wishing you many zzzzzzs.

So what “Z” things are you taking with gratitude?

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See also:
Taking “V” Things With Gratitude, Taking “W” Things With Gratitude, Taking “X” Things With Gratitude, Taking “Y” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Taking “Y” Things With Gratitude

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

For the rest of November, I’m going to take with gratitude some of those things I often take for granted — an entire alphabet’s worth! Since today is the twenty-fifth day of this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “Y” things.

I am especially grateful for:

Yellow. Such a lovely, sunny color that mostly shows it face in the flowers of spring or the changing leaves of autumn. It’s hard to be unhappy in the presence of yellow — yellow makes us optimistic and brings clarity of thought. (Hmmm. Makes we wonder if I need to get a yellow shirt or even a scarf since I don’t own anything yellow, though at one time it was my favorite color.) So, today, I will be looking for yellow, and taking whatever I find with gratitude.

Yesterday. We take yesterday for granted. What else can we do? Yesterday is gone. And yet, and yet . . . I am grateful for all my yesterdays, for where I’ve been, what I learned, who I loved.

Yes. In recent years, I have made a practice of automatically saying “yes” to any opportunity that might arise, which has taken me to so many wonderful places. I said yes to a trip to Seattle to see Shen Yun, said yes to speak at a writers’ conference at St. Simons Island, said yes to fairs and festivals, said yes to shows and classes, said yes to merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels, said yes to bizarre experiences and enjoyable excursions. After years of a constrained lifestyle where I didn’t have the luxury of accepting invitations (which, to be honest, were few and far between), “yes” has changed my attitude. Someday, “yes” might even change my life. So, today I will take with gratitude that simple little word, “yes.”

Youthfulness. Although I am not really youthful in years, appearance, or even outlook, there is still in me a youthfulness of spirit — a willingness to embrace new things, an ability to look around me with wonder, a yearning for adventure. I am grateful for that youthful spirit, and looking forward to wherever it might take me.

So what “Y” things are you taking with gratitude?

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See also:
Taking “V” Things With Gratitude, Taking “W” Things With Gratitude, Taking “X” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Taking “X” Things With Gratitude

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

For the rest of November, I’m going to take with gratitude some of those things I often take for granted — an entire alphabet’s worth! Since today is the twenty-fourth day of this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “X” things.

I am especially grateful for:

XX. There is a single page in my dictionary for X, so there’s not a lot of X things to take with gratitude. I could be grateful for X-ray machines (and I am when I need one, just not today). I could be grateful for xeriscaping, and I am — elder care is hard enough without adding lawn care to the duties. I could be grateful for xylophones, and I will be if ever I get one. So what “X” thing am I taking with gratitude today? Just that — X.

X marks the spot, and this spot — this blog — is something to take with gratitude. I’ve been blogging for more than six years, and daily blogging for more than two years, and still, I find comfort, companionship, caring, and contemplation here. So I am very grateful for this opportunity.

X stands for the unknown, and I am grateful for all the unknowns (unknown to me, that is) who stop by. And I’m grateful to those I have come to know by their comments. You have helped make me feel at home here, made me even feel wise at times.

I’m also grateful for the unknowns who helped prepare today’s meal. Since my 97-year-old father (who I am looking after) eats very little and since his idea of haute cuisine is Ensure, there was no reason to cook a holiday dinner from scratch, so I made it simple — rotisserie chicken, boxed stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, bottled gravy, bakery pumpkin pie, and yams. (Those I did cook — just plain yams, no carmelizing or marshmallowing). It was very good, actually, and the best part was that the whole things — the preparation, the meal, and the cleaning up — took little more than an hour, which leaves me the whole day to do . . . X. (Whatever that might be.)

So what “X” things are you taking with gratitude?

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See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude, Taking “B” Things With Gratitude, Taking “C” Things With Gratitude,Taking “D” Things With Gratitude, Taking “E” Things With Gratitude, Taking “F” Things With Gratitude, Taking “G” Things With Gratitude, Taking “H” Things With Gratitude, Taking “I” Things With Gratitude, Taking “J” Things With Gratitude,Taking “K” Things With Gratitude, Taking “L” Things With Gratitude, Taking “M” Things With Gratitude, Taking “N” Things With Gratitude, Taking “O” Things With Gratitude, Taking “P” Things With Gratitude, Taking “Q” Things With Gratitude, Taking “R” Things With Gratitude, Taking “S” Things With Gratitude, Taking “T” Things With Gratitude, Taking “U” Things With Gratitude, Taking “V” Things With Gratitude, Taking “W” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Taking “W” Things With Gratitude

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

For the rest of November, I’m going to take with gratitude some of those things I often take for granted — an entire alphabet’s worth! Since today is the twenty-third day of this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “W” things.

I am especially grateful for:

desert roadWalking. Today it is 44 months since my life mate/soul mate died. In 4 months it will be 4 years. Even though I can barely remember him and our shared life any more, I can still feel his absence, as if there is a void deep inside me. I don’t know how I made it this far, though the thousands of miles I have walked during the past 44 months have helped. Walking is my solace, my meditation, my inspiration, and in many cases, my transportation. (Not as much transportation as I would like — there are few stores within walking distance of where I am staying.) I am exceedingly grateful I am able to walk, particularly since so many people are denied this simple pleasure.

Weather. Although we never take weather for granted — we are so aware of the weather we are almost obsessed by it — we do take the fact of weather for granted. Whether rain or sun, blizzards or balmy breezes, there is always some kind of weather. Today I will take for gratitude whatever weather comes my way.

Water. We don’t take water for granted as we once did. We can’t drink from streams or creeks. In many cases, we can’t even drink from our faucets as we once did. There are territorial disputes over water, as in frontier days. And yet, as of now, we still have water to drink, even if it does come in dubious purified form from the grocery store, and that is something to take with gratitude. I will be drinking extra water today, giving thanks that potable water is still so abundant.

Wisdom. I don’t know how much wisdom there is in the world, or even how much wisdom I have, but today, I will be taking with gratitude whatever wisdom I find.

So what “W” things are you taking with gratitude?

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See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude, Taking “B” Things With Gratitude, Taking “C” Things With Gratitude,Taking “D” Things With Gratitude, Taking “E” Things With Gratitude, Taking “F” Things With Gratitude, Taking “G” Things With Gratitude, Taking “H” Things With Gratitude, Taking “I” Things With Gratitude, Taking “J” Things With Gratitude,Taking “K” Things With Gratitude, Taking “L” Things With Gratitude, Taking “M” Things With Gratitude, Taking “N” Things With Gratitude, Taking “O” Things With Gratitude, Taking “P” Things With Gratitude, Taking “Q” Things With Gratitude, Taking “R” Things With Gratitude, Taking “S” Things With Gratitude, Taking “T” Things With Gratitude, Taking “U” Things With Gratitude, Taking “V” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Taking “V” Things With Gratitude

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

For the rest of November, I’m going to take with gratitude some of those things I often take for granted — an entire alphabet’s worth! Since today is the twenty-second day of this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “V” things.

I am especially grateful for:

saladVegetables. Such a wide variety of produce is available to us, that we often take vegetables for granted, but they are a colorful, nutritious, and tasty part of our diet, and I am grateful for that.

Variety. No matter what definition of variety you pick, that kind of variety is an important part of life. 1) The quality or state of being different. 2) a collection of different sorts of things. 3) a type of something in the same general class. 4) a show consisting of various acts. Today I will take with gratitude a variety of varieties, and be thankful that there is so much diversity in the world.

Values. Values (or rather talk of values) seem only to be trotted out by politicians who are up for election, but we all have values — ideals and behaviors that are important to us and that we try to live up to, or things that mean something to us. I am truly grateful for everyone who values my words enough to read this blog.

Vocabulary. Speaking of words, I value my vocabulary — which, unfortunately, is not as large as it once was. Many words seem to have gotten stuck in the backwaters of my brain where I can’t retrieve them. Still, I have words enough to say what I need to say, and that is something to take with gratitude!

Vanity. Although vanity is defined as having excessive pride in one’s appearance, for the most part we now use vanity to mean simply an awareness of one’s appearance. Such an awareness remains with us to the end. Even the elderly, even people on their deathbeds want to look as good as possible. It seems to me such a desire is an admirable thing, a triumph of the human spirit, and should be taken with gratitude.

So, what “V” things are you taking with gratitude.

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See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude, Taking “B” Things With Gratitude, Taking “C” Things With Gratitude,Taking “D” Things With Gratitude, Taking “E” Things With Gratitude, Taking “F” Things With Gratitude, Taking “G” Things With Gratitude, Taking “H” Things With Gratitude, Taking “I” Things With Gratitude, Taking “J” Things With Gratitude,Taking “K” Things With Gratitude, Taking “L” Things With Gratitude, Taking “M” Things With Gratitude, Taking “N” Things With Gratitude, Taking “O” Things With Gratitude, Taking “P” Things With Gratitude, Taking “Q” Things With Gratitude, Taking “R” Things With Gratitude, Taking “S” Things With Gratitude, Taking “T” Things With Gratitude, Taking “U” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.