100 Days

There are one hundred days until the end of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to slack off, giving yourself permission to take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of to-be-read books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you always wanted to do? Are you going to blog every day?

That’s what I’m going to do — recommit to blogging every day. I’ve been blogging every day for the past 365 days, and I intend to extend that commitment to the end of the year. (I’ll try to make the blogs interesting because posting something just to post something sort of negates the “challenge” part.) Feel free to join me! We can help each other, offering encouragement or topics when the will begins to wane. And it does. When I was grieving, it was easier to come up with topics than it is now when I am in a more comfortable situation. It’s hard to find lesson in being at peace. I suppose peace is a lesson in itself, but what can you say beyond that you’re at peace?

Still, I do manage to find something to write about. My sincere apologies for the more mindless posts and my eternal gratitude to everyone who reads what I write. A special thank you to those who comment, and a heartfelt appreciation for the thought-provoking responses. It’s always good to have more thoughts in my head than simply those I put there.

Even in a year as difficult and as slow as this one, the days do pass. And in 100 days it will be over. I have no great belief that next year will be better, so it’s not as though I’m counting down to the end of the year in order to get rid of this one. It’s more about taking something besides fear and isolation out of this year. It’s about making this year count, or at least making the last 100 days count. How are you going to make your days count?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

100 Days

There are ninety-eight days until the end of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to slack off, giving yourself permission to take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you always wanted to do?

In yesterday’s blog about my twelve-year blog anniversary, I mentioned that several years ago I had made a commitment to post every day for the last 100 days of the year, and I suddenly felt as if I’d like to take up the challenge again. After all, I had already completed the first day! (Since I am getting a late start — the 100 last days began with September 23 — I will have to add the first day of the new year to make an even 100 days. Assuming I get that far. Assuming that decimal numbers are important.)

The first challenge helped me get back into writing, helped me get back into myself. Too often I am pulled in many directions, with no clear direction of what I want to do or be, so a challenge like this might be what I need to give me a bit of focus.

And challenge it will be. I have a hard time focusing my mind on any sort of writing right now. I am trying to put together a press release about my latest (and possibly my most important) book Grief: The Inside Story, but the words don’t seem to connect with me.

It’s possible this disconnect with words is due not so much to letting myself drift but falling once again into my old book-a-day reading habit. (After Jeff died, I couldn’t read because books either had a couple getting together, which made me cry, or had the couple not getting together, which made me cry, or had too many deaths, which made me cry. It was easier simply to stop reading. Compared to losing Jeff, giving up reading was easy, though it had always been a major part of my life.)

I recently read that reading and writing go hand in hand because reading is inhaling and writing is exhaling. (That’s how I always felt about reading, as if it were a type of breathing.) But now I suppose I need to try to exhale, though I’m not sure what I would be exhaling. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and making a commitment goes against my current desire to drift, but what the heck. I never let a lack of wisdom stop me from blogging before.

All this is by way of warning for those of you who follow this blog. Yesterday, today, and the coming ninety-eight days are more for me, just for the discipline of writing. I don’t expect you to read or comment on my meanderings, (especially not this blog post), but if you desire to do so anyway, I will be glad of the company.

And maybe I will even be glad of a chance to stop the drift. Just drifting has been good for me, especially the past few months where I’ve been getting used to a new house, a new town, a new life, but it doesn’t really seem to accomplish much.

So, this is a start.

Perhaps.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

2017 Got the Last Laugh

2017 was a year of pain, surgery, healing, doctors, drugs, along with various other maladies and challenges that kept me unwell for more than seven months.

I thought I’d be going into 2018 strong and relatively healthy, but 2017 got the last laugh. Here it is, the final day of the year, and I am sick again, this time with an intestinal bug. So much fun!

And so my prediction in Getting a Head Start on New Years Resolutions came true. Before I even started the year, my resolutions have gone by the wayside. That list has now been downgraded to a “to do list.” (Which, to be honest, was all those resolutions were in the first place.)

Despite that, with this post, as unpleasant as it might be, I have fulfilled my fifty-day blog challenge.

Wishing us all a healthy 2018 and challenges that are as pleasant to fulfill as this challenge was.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Not a Flowing but a Flowering

If I hadn’t challenged myself to posting a blog every day for fifty days, I wouldn’t be sitting here at the computer trying to write  . . . something. Anything.

Normally, I would have gone to dance class today (ballet and tap, it would have been), which might have given me something to write about, but I woke with a sore throat and didn’t want to push my luck by going anyway — everyone I know caught cold this fall, and some people have had it for months. Not that I want to whine about being under the weather — that gets old. Actually, I don’t want to whine at all. I’ve been feeling good lately — I’ve spent many hours hiking in the desert, and I always feel most myself when I’m walking, especially when I’m walking out in the wild. Perhaps it’s the rhythm of walking that brings me to myself, or maybe it’s the wild inside connecting to the wild outside.

But today is not a day for walking. Or hiking. Or being any kind of wild.

It’s a day for . . . I don’t know. Just being, maybe.

I’ve been scrolling through my archives looking for inspiration for today’s blog post. My challenge was specifically worded so I didn’t have to write something new — I just had to post something. But I couldn’t find anything that spoke to me about me today.

I feel such a slug at times, as if I have always just flowed through my days, accomplishing not much of anything (which, though we seldom admit it, is living just as much as anything else), but I look at those previous posts and see not a flowing but a flowering. Adventures and explorations galore. A multitude of life-changing losses. A few life-changing gains. And yet, oddly, none of those things seem to have anything to do with me.

Each day, it seems, I am born anew, a woman with not much of a past, a woman with an unknown future. I was going to write “a woman with not much of a future,” but who’s to say what will happen? I remember times when nothing seemed to happen, such as the long years when Jeff never seemed to get sicker, never seemed to get better. And then suddenly, he did get sicker, and just as suddenly he died. During all those years when we would talk about his being gone, I could never have imagined what my life would become. And that was a mere seven years ago. Three years ago, my father died, and oddly despite my occasional nomadism, I am mostly living the same life as I did with him, though without responsibilities and in a different house, and I could never have imagined that, either.

The days continue to flow, but to what purpose, I don’t know.

Maybe a new flowering.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Silly Season

In November, many fiction writers participate in a project called National Novel Writing Month (though now it seems to be an international thing). Bloggers tapped into that pool of creativity and used to participate in something called National Blog Posting Month where bloggers post something each day in November. Maybe they still do; I don’t know. I do remember that the year I did it, the month was called The Silly Season because bloggers quickly ran out of ideas and so wrote about anything, no matter how silly.

I am in the midst of my own blog challenge, to post something every day until the end of the year, and today is my silly season because all I can think of to write is something totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. (Let’s hope my silly season ends here, but with thirty-four days left of the challenge and not much to say, who knows what I’ll end up posting.)

A couple of years ago, when I went on a buying spree for camping and backpacking supplies, I ended up with a $39.00 dividend from REI. I thought I had until March to use it, but I found out a couple of days ago it would expire shortly. Since I didn’t really need anything, I checked the website to see if I could find some hiking pants in my size because the only ones I have are black, which is too attractive to mosquitoef3a389da-0c18-4277-a25f-7290e42da4a3s. No pants, but I did find a lovely blue fleece jacket in my size. (I knew it was my size because I have a couple of others in different colors.) It was on sale for 40% off, and since it was (accidentally on my part) the weekend after Thanksgiving, I got 25% off the 40% off. Even with shipping and tax, the total bill for the $65.00 fleece came to less than my dividend, so it was free to me!!

The jacket came today, and it’s lovely, and so very warm. It also came with a warning: This innovative product will make you want to go outdoors and stay there.

Maybe. Someday.

For now, though, silly post or not, the jacket will be perfect for my trek into the very cold desert tomorrow.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Fifty Day Blog Challenge

Ever since I finished my two latest books a year ago (Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinshed, I haven’t done much writing. Not much blogging, either (though technically, blogging is writing, so I shouldn’t separate the two.). There’s always been an excuse. A shattered arm/wrist/elbow. A fuzzy mind from opioids. (I used to think I had an addictive personality, but I guess not — I was glad when I finally was able to handle the pain and stop taking pain pills.) And then there was the very hot summer. (The air conditioning in this room I am renting is minimal, and I was too hot to think. But then, I didn’t feel like thinking anyway since I seem to be in a drifting mode.)

Well, enough of the excuses, and more than enough of the parenthetical comments!

When I mentioned my non-writing to a friend, she said, “Well, write something.” Since I always try to do what people request (unless, of course, I am in a rebellious mood), here I am.

In 2011, I participated in a hundred day blog challenge: to post something every day on each of the last 100 days of the year. The time is long past to be able to duplicate that challenge, but coincidentally, I just discovered there are 50 blogging days until the end of 2017, and since I love even numbers, coincidences, and serendipity, I decided to try an abbreviated challenge.

And challenge it will be. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and making a commitment goes against the drift, but what the heck. I never let a lack of wisdom stop me from blogging before.

All this is by way of warning for those of you who follow this blog. Today and the coming forty-nine days are more for me, just for the discipline of it. I don’t expect you to read or comment on my meanderings, (especially not this blog post), but if you desire to do so anyway, I will be glad of the company.

And maybe I will even be glad of a chance to stop the drift. Just drifting has been good for me, but it doesn’t really accomplish much, and before I leave my current place (the road — and an epic adventure — is calling to me), I would like to finish the book I started a decade ago, clear out some of the stuff in my storage unit that I haven’t been able to get rid of yet, become strong enough physically to go hiking again, and oh, so many things!

So, this is a start.

Perhaps.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

What are You Going to Do With the Last 100 Days of the Year?

Tomorrow begins the last one hundred days of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to slack off, giving yourself permission to take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you always wanted to do? Are you going to make a commitment to blog every day?

That’s what I’m going to do — make a commitment to blog every day. I’ve been blogging every day for the past 364 days, and I intend to extend that commitment to the end of the year. (I’ll try to make the blogs interesting because posting something just to post something sort of negates the “challenge” part.) Feel free to join me! We can help each other, offering encouragement or topics when the will begins to wane.

Just to make things fun, I’m also going to give up sugar (and sweets of all kinds). I used to forego sugared products except for occasional splurges of chocolate, but after the death of my life mate/soul mate, I got on a sugar jag, eating all sorts of sweets I hadn’t eaten for years. When one is grieving, it always feels like three o’clock in the morning — your mental and physical defenses are down and your blood sugar feels as if it’s at a low ebb — so I got in the habit of treating myself. I stopped eating sugar and flour a couple of weeks ago, and I intend to continue doing so. (Sugar is a poison, screwing up the system, causing myriad problems, including weight gain. This has been known for many decades despite the front page news this morning that “new research offers the disturbing suggestion that regular consumption of high calorie sugared beverages may turn on genetic switches that incline our bodies to becoming fat.” Duh. Can you believe researches actually got grants for that? And artificial sweeteners are even worse — true poison! Besides, they make you crave sugar, and have been implicated in obesity, so I won’t be substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar.)

And a final challenge (the hardest of them all) — I’m going to stop obsessing over things I cannot change. When things happen that I have no control over, I tend to work them over and over in my mind, trying to make them come out right, but that only puts me on the treadmill of circular thinking. As I wrote once a long time ago (showing that I’ve always had this tendency):

it is real, yes
and it does exist
but that does not mean
i should have given it
so much of my reality

So, have I shamed you into taking a 100-day challenge?

Blogging is Writing, Too

I always hated the saying “A writer writes . . . always.” No one does anything “always” except maybe breathe. And anyway, the very fact of having written five books and getting them published makes me a writer, even if I write . . . whenever.

But it turns out the joke is on me. I do write always, or as nearly always as possible. I’m either writing an article for this blog, or trying to think of a topic, either planning what I am going to say when I do think of a topic, or experiencing things which I will later write about. I don’t know why I tend to think that “writing” means fiction writing, perhaps because fiction comes hard for me and blogging easy, but the truth is, blogging is writing, too.

On September 25, 2011, I accepted a challenge to blog for 100 days. (I found out about it two days late — the challenge was actually to blog the last 100 days of the year, and it started on the 23, but I figured I’d add the missing two days on the back end.) I hadn’t been writing much, just an occasional blog post, and I was drifting, not doing much of anything except struggling with an upsurge of grief (still don’t know why 18 months after a grievous death is so hard, but it’s part of the grief pattern). So much I had counted on had disappeared — my life mate/soul mate, our way of life, some of the friends I made after his death— that I felt as if I were disappearing too.

I thought writing every day would give me something to hang on to, and it must have worked, because after the challenge ended, I didn’t quit. I never actually made the decision to stick with daily blogging — I just did it — and to my surprise, I find myself less than a month away from completing an entire year of daily posts.

I’ve come a long way in the past 341 days, turned several corners, came to many realizations, but most of all, I found peace. Or rather, I made peace. I made peace with the death of my mate, with my place in the universe, and with my place in the world of books. Even without the daily blogging, I might have come to the same realizations at the same time, but writing gave focus to my thoughts, and daily writing gave focus to my life. I’d planned to stop the daily posts after my one-year anniversary, but now . . . who knows. I might keep going. (Though one person suggested — facetiously, I hope — that I should give my poor blog readers a break.)