The New Year

It’s probably been more than 30 years now since my father and I made that trip to Canada. I remember sitting in passenger seat asking Dad about the old days. I wanted to know about his life, about where he’d come from and how he’d become the man he was. He told me stories of my grandfather who I’d never had the good fortune to meet. Grandpa died in 1935 following an appendicitis attack. My father was seven years old and emulated grandpa who was a well respected dairy farmer in the area.

It was in that conversation so many years ago that I asked my dad about what he wanted to do with his life. He told me about wanting to be a dairy farmer like his father had been. He told me about how life had gotten in the way of following his dream. He made choices, choices that were difficult but that he felt were right. He set his dream aside for marriage and children. He chose a full time job off the farm to keep his growing family fed and clothed. He put his family first and though he did crop farming he never got cows.

When I looked into his eyes and saw the sadness of a dream never realized I made a decision that defined my life. I decided in that moment that I would never look back on my life to see I hadn’t fully lived.

That decision has led me to living in eight different towns in three different states, leading community organizing efforts and fighting multinational corporations, traveling on three continents, hiking hundreds of miles, and now working at a university.

It’s been good so far, but recently watching my now aged father and a much younger family member who’s been dealing with major health issues, I’ve been thinking. My life has become rather routine and there is much to do, to see, to learn. It seems a year to write down some of those things that I’d like to have happen as a reminder to myself and a public commitment. So, here it goes. Presuming that I succeed with my efforts, there will undoubtedly be updates throughout the year. I hope you’ll read on and share the experience with me. I wish you the best in the new year! Here’s what I’ll be doing to grow.

  1. Writing at least 50 blog posts (here’s the 1st one!)
  2. Reading/ listening to 50 books ( I’m starting with “The Education of Will” by Patricia McConnell and “38 Nooses” by Scott W. Berg)
  3. Getting back on track with my healthy eating habits
  4. Running a 10k or 1/2 marathon (I haven’t decided yet, but I know more than 5k and probably not a full)
  5. learn to play guitar
  6. finish at least 3 or 4 knitting projects
  7. Get Buddy started with his therapy dog training
  8. Cutting my screen time significantly, especially facebook time

Those are my big goals for the year. My hope is that these will bring me more happiness along with some new skills, improved physical health, knowledge, and some cool projects. I hope you’ll find positive growth in the new year as well. Take good care!

I Used to Know a Writer

What is it that makes someone a writer? That’s the question that I’ve been asking myself today.  Two days ago I felt the need to start a new blog.  I acknowledged all the times that people have encouraged me to put my life stories to paper and decided to do it.  Then, today, I sat down at the computer and nothing.  That’s right, nothing came out.

I grew up out in the country, on a farm in southeastern Wisconsin.  My high school graduating class had less than 100 kids.  We were pretty lucky kids though.  We really were the center of the town’s attention.  Whether it was the high school musical, a parade, or a football game we were the ones everyone came to watch.  We were the stars.  I acted, played music, edited the school paper.

Then I went to college.  The campus had about six times as many people as the town that I’d gone to high school it.  It was the big time for this farm girl.

Thursday nights my freshman year began to define me.  Thursday nights led me to the basement of the library, a gathering of the minds, probably the most creative group of out of this world artists I’ve ever had the good fortune to know.  It was University Writers and I became a writer.  I’d written for years, but it was then that I began to share my work, began to look at myself differently, see my thoughts as valuable, creative, and something special.

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat and laughed and shared with those friends in the basement of the library.  Yet, they carry with me.  Here’s a piece that I had published in Barney Street our campus literary magazine my sophomore year.

Little Boy

Little Boy
hiding in the shadows
laughing in the light
colouring a crayola world
running from shades of gray and black
dressing up in soldier clothes
carrying at his side
a gun
and a tear stained knife
Little Boy rides his unicorn
slides down rainbows
in the day
in the evening
puts in his mask
a grown-up masquerade
evil black knight
fearful, dangerous,
angry wolf
and at night
in the midnight darkness
the mask away
Little Boy cries
and prays for day

It’s nearly 30 years later now.  It’s been a long while since I’ve written poetry.  But, the stories continue.  I keep writing, journaling, grants, reports, mostly.  Does it mean that I am still a writer?  I hope so.  It seems time to start work on another chapter.