Space Filler

This is one of those write-anything-so-you-can-say-you-wrote-something posts. I had an unexpected day off, so I accompanied a couple of friends who had appointments in a not-so-nearby city (the first time I’ve been in a major city in many years). I didn’t do much but fill space as I sat in the car and stared out the window watching the world go by, but it was nice to spend a day with these people, especially since it might be a year before I see one of them again. (He’s heading back to Thailand to be with his sick wife, and once again I will be looking after his house for him.)

As pleasant as the day was, it didn’t save me much time to write a real blogpost instead of a space filler. In the grand scheme of life, I don’t suppose it matters if I skip a day now and again, but today is the 914th day of a daily blogging streak, and I hate to quit when I am so close to 1,000 days. (Close? Sheesh. I still have almost three months to go!)

The funny thing about this trip is that both my sisters (who live on the west coast) were in that very city just a couple of days ago. I couldn’t get to Denver to visit them — not only was there a major snowstorm moving through Colorado, but my brakes, which have been working fine, decided to go squishy on me. (Because there hasn’t been a problem, I haven’t been reminding the mechanic to order a brake cylinder with the proper clocking to fit my car, so yesterday I stopped by to tell him about the brakes.) Because of The Bob, and because I am not fully vaccinated, my sisters’ immune-compromised friends didn’t want them to visit me, so I wouldn’t have been able to see them even if there weren’t a snowstorm and even if my brakes did work, which is okay. I’ve been leery of being around travelers anyway, because a person is only as healthy as the last person they sat next to.

Tomorrow should be a more leisurely day for writing, so I’ll fill you in on my trip. Meantime, here is a photo of what I saw when I was staring out the window of the moving car.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Because of various Bob-related issues around town, I haven’t been working much lately, which has been nice. I like having my time to myself to do what I wish (and even what I don’t wish but need to get done).

Sometime during the next couple of weeks, things should settle down enough that we (my fellow caregiver and our client) can get back to our regular schedule, which will also be nice because the extra company is good for me and the extra money helps pay for a few frivolities, such as groceries and grass (the lawn kind, not the erstwhile illegal kind). Still, I’m okay with whatever might happen. Over the past decade or so, I’ve learned to be resilient enough to take whatever comes my way, though I do reserve the right to whine a bit if I feel it.

In two weeks and a day, we start a new year. I’ve never been particularly excited about a new year since basically all it means is a clean calendar and learning to put a different year on the few checks I write. Even worse, we carry our old selves into the new year, so despite all our resolutions (or lack of resolutions), the old year folds into the new one without a hitch. For some reason, though, perhaps because of uncertainties The Bob is still causing, I am looking forward to this new year with a bit of hope, as if it is actually something new.

For sure, it’s a new month, one that will bring me closer to spring and spring flowers to brighten my day. It will also bring me closer to another “elder” birthday, but that’s not a problem. The actual number of years don’t matter, of course, though what all those years have done to me does. I can still do almost everything I want to, but I am slower, and I find myself tilting forward when I stand or walk. It takes a concerted effort to remember to roll my shoulders back and stand up straight, but I can still do that, which is good. (In his old age, my father tilted forward when he walked, too, and I always wondered why. Perhaps our sense of equilibrium goes out of whack like so much else.)

The other thing that the new year will bring is an end to my 100-day blogging challenge, though that won’t be the end of the daily blogging. Although sometimes it’s hard to come up with something to say, it’s still a good exercise for me, so I will continue at least until I reach the 1000-day mark. (183 more days.) Or not. Life itself is a continual challenge, and we never quite know what each day will bring, but if everything goes as planned, I’ll be here every day until the middle of June.

Meantime, there’s the rest of today to enjoy, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

***

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.

Books and Blogs

I seem to be doing my blogging later and later as time goes on. Unfortunately, inspiration is hard to come by when one spends most of one’s time alone. And then there is the matter of laziness, perhaps, or simply a tendency toward procrastination. Either way, here I am with my lights on since it’s dark outside, trying to think of something interesting to say. One of these days, I will give in to the temptation to let a day or two slide, but for now, I’ve committed to daily blogging for the rest of the year.

Just about the only thing I’ve been thinking about (other than that it will be another six months before I can get back into gardening) is the awful book I just finished reading. I could have put it aside at any time, of course, but then the uneasiness fostered by the story would have lingered much longer than it would by finishing it. Normally I don’t read contemporary women’s lit, but I needed a break from my usual diet of murder and suspense, which is a mistake I won’t be making again soon.

There seem to be two types of books that are targeted specifically for women — happily-ever-after stories (romances that tell the beginning of a relationship), and unhappily-ever-after stories, (novels that tell what happens to the loving couple after many years of being together).

This particular book was of the second variety. The main theme was about communication; none of the characters every told their partner what they were thinking. They expected the other person to know what was going on in their minds without their having to say a single word, and each character interpreted their partner’s actions in light of their own insecurities rather than the partner’s.

Even worse, the novel told three very loosely connected stories. The only connecting element was a house that none of them end up with; otherwise, the three stories had nothing to do with one another. Worst of all, there was nothing in any of the stories to offset the growing sense of dread and dreariness as the couples all drifted further apart. Just misunderstanding built on misunderstanding built on misunderstanding.

Simple discussions at the beginning of the book would have swept away all those misunderstandings. But then, there would have been no book for me to suffer through. Nor would I have had anything to write about today.

One of the stories was about a couple who were divorced from their original partners, and who ended up getting married. Since each had children from the prior marriage, and each child brought their own insecurities to the new home, dread was piled on dread. Some of that dread, I am sure, has to do with my own situation. I am at the age where, if I ever ended up in another relationship, it would be complicated by his children and grandchildren and perhaps even a great-grandbaby or two. (Unless, of course, he’s the type to eschew all family, in which case he wouldn’t be worth having.) The mere thought of having to sort out and find a way to combine the baggage of two lifetimes wearies me.

Luckily, I have no interest in another relationship. I have a house (and this blog), and that’s about as much responsibility as I want in my life.

***

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?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Happy Fourteenth Bloggiversary to Me!

I created this blog fourteen years ago today, back when I hadn’t yet become a published author, back when I had just acquired my first computer and didn’t even know what a blog was. I had read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so I decided to “act as if” I were going to be published in the hopes of making it happen. I had nothing to say, no one to say it to, no reason to say anything, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started blogging on September 24, 2007, and haven’t stopped since.

Did acting as if I were going to get published work? Perhaps, though there is no direct connection that I know of. Still, one and a half years after starting this blog, my first two books were published. I now have nine books available: four suspense novels, one mystery, three books about grief (one fiction and two non-fiction), and my most recent book, Bob: The Right Hand of God. (My publisher said, “Bob: The Right Hand of God is playful, fun and well-written. It spans genres, so I’m not sure if there is an exploitable target audience. I don’t care. I like it.”

Two-and-half years after I started this blog, my life mate/soul mate died, and his death catapulted me into a world of such pain that it bled over into my posts. This blog became a place where I could try to make sense of what I was going through, to offer comfort and be comforted, to find my way to renewed life. And I struck a chord with people who were also dealing with grief. It’s no wonder my top posts are grief related: What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas? with 91,801 views and The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief with 40,705 views.

This blog sustained me during the years I cared for my father after Jeff’s death, and it gave me a place to rest when my father died four years later, and I was thrown out into the world, alone and orphaned.

This blog offered me a place to call home when I set out alone on a five-month, 12,000 mile cross-country road trip, gave me a place where I could talk about all the wonders I was seeing. Often on that trip, when I was between visits with online friends, I thought of William Cowper’s words: How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet. And this blog became a place where I could whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

And when I settled into a house of my own, this blog gave me a place of familiarity in an otherwise unfamiliar life.

Currently, as I am dealing with the infirmities of the encroaching years as well as the many facets of first-time homeownership, it’s nice to know that whatever life throws at me, whatever problems I encounter, whatever challenges and adventures — and joys — come my way, this blog will be here for me.

During the past fourteen years, I have written 3,207 blogs, received 21,115 comments, and garnered 960,164 views. It amazes me that anyone wants to read anything that I write here. This is so much a place for just letting my thoughts roam, for thinking through problems, and (I admit it) for pontificating a bit. It’s been a kick, writing this blog, and I want to thank all of you for indulging my whims and whimsies.

Thank you for reading. Thank you all for your comments, your likes, your support. They have meant more to me (especially this past eleven and a half years) than you can ever imagine.

***

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.

Happy Thirteenth Bloggiversary to Me!

I created this blog exactly thirteen years ago today, back when I hadn’t yet become a published author, back when I had just acquired my first computer and didn’t even know what a blog was. I had read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so I decided to “act as if” I were going to be published in the hopes of making it happen. I had nothing to say, no one to say it to, no reason to say anything, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started blogging on September 24, 2007, and haven’t stopped since.

Did acting as if I were going to get published work? Perhaps, though there is no direct connection that I know of. Still, one and a half years after starting this blog, my first two books were published. I now have eight books available: five suspense novels, one mystery, and two non-fiction books about grief. A ninth book will soon be published, a novel that my publisher said, “is playful, fun and well-written. It spans genres, so I’m not sure if there is an exploitable target audience. I don’t care. I like it.”

Two-and-half years after I started this blog, my life mate/soul mate died, and his death catapulted me into a world of such pain that it bled over into my posts. This blog became a place where I could try to make sense of what I was going through, to offer comfort and be comforted, to find my way to renewed life. And I struck a chord with people who were also dealing with grief. It’s no wonder my top posts are grief related: What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas? with 82,261 views and The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief with 38,122 views.

This blog sustained me during the years I cared for my father after Jeff’s death, and it gave me a place to rest when my father died four years later, and I was thrown out into the world, alone and orphaned.

And this blog offered me a place to call home when I set out alone on a five-month, 12,000 mile cross-country road trip, gave me a place where I could talk about all the wonders I was seeing. Often on that trip, when I was between visits with online friends, I thought of William Cowper’s words: How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet. And this blog became a place where I could whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

Currently, as I am continuing to settle into a house of my own, it’s nice to know that whatever life throws at me, whatever problems I encounter, whatever challenges and adventures — and joys — come my way, this blog will be here for me.

During the past thirteen years, I have written 2,842 blogs, received 19,481 comments, and garnered 873,352 views. It amazes me that anyone wants to read anything that I write here. This is so much a place for just letting my thoughts roam, for thinking through problems, and (I admit it) for pontificating a bit. It’s been a kick, writing this blog, and I want to thank all of you for indulging my whims and whimsys.

Thank you for reading. Thank you all for your comments, your likes, your support. They have meant more to me (especially this past ten and a half years) than you can ever imagine.

***

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 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

Being Centered

After Jeff died, I feared I would stagnate, so I tried to get into the habit of saying “yes” to invitations and to following people’s suggestions about things to do. This led me to many interesting activities, including a short road trip along Route 66, learning to shoot various guns, and many meals with friends. (Going against people’s suggestions also netted me interesting activities, such as my cross-country road trip. Many people warned me of the dangers and said I couldn’t go alone, but I could and I did.)

More recently, ever since I heeded the suggestion to buy a house in southeastern Colorado, I’ve again been saying a lot of yesses. These yesses, too, have let me to interesting activities, including a train ride through the Royal Gorge, artistic endeavors such as painting gourds and making wreaths, and many, many meals with friends.

During the ten days after Christmas, there were no activities, so I spent the time by myself. It felt good. Centered. As if I were pulling my life back into my life.

It felt especially good to be able to structure my days. A bit of writing in the morning, walking around noon when the sun had taken the chill off the winter air, making raw vegetable salads and other healthy things in the afternoon. And reading in the evening.

I am so often torn — being disciplined or treating myself; being alone or visiting with friends; being structured or acting spontaneously. Being centered helps to mend the tear, to find a balance between what I want to do and . . . well, what I want to do. I want to do all of it, because obviously, if I didn’t want to be disciplined, I wouldn’t even try. If I didn’t want to treat myself, I wouldn’t give in. If I didn’t want to be alone, I would add to my activities, if I didn’t want to be with people, I’d say “no” more often.

Daily blogging began the process of centering me. It’s both a discipline and a treat, a way of being alone and visiting, a way of being structured and spontaneous. Writing has always been important to me, and it’s good to have an excuse to indulge myself (though truly, one needs no excuse to write).

A center needs to be held loosely — if you hold on too tightly, the pressure can blow it apart. If you hold on too loosely, it turns in “a widening gyre” and the center cannot hold. Still, without doing any harm, I can certainly be more careful what I say yes to. I’ve backed away from one of the clubs I joined, will back away from some shared meals, and am backing into a healthier regime.

Oddly, I no longer fear I will stagnate. Perhaps what I called stagnation was simply being centered.

***

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.

And the Streak Continues!

Can you believe it? It’s been fifty days since I started blogging every day again. Wow, that went fast! For me, anyway. For you, it might have been a long slog since my post topics have been all over the place, with only a thin theme to bind them together: what goes on in my life and in my head.

I blogged every day for many years, and then things happened to get me off the track. Buying a house. Moving. Starting a new life. Even before the house, though, I’d stopped blogging about whatever came to mind. When I was trying to find an agent for Grief: The Inside Story — A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One, I needed to present myself as someone who knew what she was talking about, and a post about apples, for example, just wouldn’t cut it. So I tried to focus on grief topics.

The problem was that I had nothing left to say about grief. I’d spent months working on Grief: The Inside Story, and I included everything I had learned about grief in the book, especially the things that the professional grief community got wrong.

When I started writing the book, I’d been more or less pain free for a year or two (there are always upsurges of grief that one cannot plan for), so I had to dig deep to reconnect with my grief, and in doing so, I’d wrung myself dry.

Consequently, there were no non-grief posts, but no grief posts, either.

As it turned out, it wouldn’t have mattered whatever I wrote for this blog. Literary agents are only interested in people who have tens of thousands of followers, and I’m nowhere close to that number. The irony of it all is that if I had such a following, I sure as heck wouldn’t have needed the agents!

By that time, though, I’d lost the habit of daily blogging, so I finally challenged myself to blog daily for 100 days in an effort to kickstart my writing.

Now here I am, halfway through that self-imposed 100-day blog challenge, and enjoying it immensely. I’d forgotten how good it feels to find something to write about each day, something that happened, maybe, and try to show why it was important.

The challenge ends on January 2, 2020, which means there are forty-eight days left until the end of the year.

What are you going to do with those days?

I know what I’m going to do: blog!

***

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.

Happy Twelfth Bloggiversary to Me!

I created this blog exactly twelve years ago today, back when I hadn’t yet become a published author, back when I had just acquired my first computer and didn’t even know what a blog was. I had read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so I decided to “act as if” I were going to be published in the hopes of making it happen. I had nothing to say, no one to say it to, no reason to say anything, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started blogging on September 24, 2007, and haven’t stopped since, though admittedly, I don’t post as much as I once did.

Did acting as if I were going to get published work? Perhaps, though there is no direct connection that I know of. Still, one and a half years after starting this blog, my first two books were published. I now have eight books available: five suspense novels, one mystery, and two non-fiction books about grief.

Nine and a half years ago, my life mate/soul mate died, and his death catapulted me into a world of such pain that it bled over into my posts. This blog became a place where I could try to make sense of what I was going through, to offer comfort and be comforted, to find my way to renewed life. This blog sustained me during the years I cared for my father, and it gave me a place to rest after my father died, when I was thrown out into the world, alone and orphaned. And this blog offered me a place to call home when I set out alone on a five-month, 12,000 mile cross-country road trip, gave me a place where I could talk about all the wonders I was seeing. Often on that trip, when I was between visits with online friends, I thought of William Cowper’s words: How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet. And this blog became a place where I could whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

Currently, as I am settling into a home of my own, it’s nice to know that whatever life throws at me, whatever problems I encounter, whatever challenges and adventures — and joys — come my way, this blog will be here for me.

Although I’d planned to post every day when I started blogging, during the first four years I only managed to blog three or four times a week, but exactly eight years ago today, I made a 100-day commitment to post a daily blog, and once that initial commitment was fulfilled, I continued to post every day for four and a half years. I probably would still be blogging every day except I got out of the habit of daily posts while on my great adventure because so often on the road, I had no internet connection, not even with my phone. And now that I am embarking on the new adventure of homeownership, complete with internet, I have few internal (or external) conflicts to give me blog topics.

But still, the blog is here, always welcoming me when I do find something to say, generally once or twice a month, but perhaps, when I get tired of my new offline world, I’ll be back here every day.

During the past twelve years, I have written 2,480 blogs, received 17,489 comments, and garnered 780,711 views. It amazes me that anyone wants to read anything that I write here. This is so much a place for just letting my thoughts roam, for thinking through problems, and (I admit it) for pontificating a bit. It’s been a kick, writing this blog, and I want to thank all of you for indulging my whims and whimsys.

Thank you for reading. Thank you all for your comments, your likes, your support. They have meant more to me (especially this past nine and a half years) than you can ever imagine.

***

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.