THE WRITE PLACE…

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One Year on Word Press. Thanks!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Yes, it has been a year since I began blogging. Even though it was very lonely the first few months, you eventually found me and have kept me going with your support and encouragement ever since. The secret to bringing folks to your blog is so simple: Get out and visit, comment and “like” other blogs. That’s it. Go forth and make friends :>)

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Here’s how the first 6 months went for me. I didn’t know one blogger and had no idea how to blog. After a couple months of loneliness, I started searching for info about memoir and children’s writing and publishing. During my quest for info I started visiting other blogs, I made some friends. Adding photos to my posts seemed to bring more people to this little community. Popping in on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, really brought some new faces to The Write Place.

I hope to add some highlights of the second half of my first year in the next few days, but for now, here is what I was up to my first six months…

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Six entries in March 2013, including things like:

I posted a quote that seemed to fit my state of mind as I began this new endeavor of public blogging, writing and (hopefully) publishing. “Do not hurry, do not rest,” by Goethe. As fast as I wanted to get started, I knew that I also wanted to take my time and not make a bunch of (public) mistakes.

I was unsure of what/how to begin, but decided to use my long dormant maiden name for my writing. I posted a poem inspired by my mother, who instilled the love of reading and humor in me. Another poem that I posted that first month reflected the pain of the sudden and unexpected loss of one of my sisters the year before.

Sunrise at Westhaven Beach 3

Sunrise at Westhaven Beach, WA w/Coast Guard Tower. Phall Photo 2013  

The post, Keeper Book Synopsis, http://wp.me/p3i5jo-x tells the genesis story of the handcrafted “Keepers” that my friend (Leslee) and I created years ago. My hopes are to publish the stories that I wrote for each one. I also finished typing a 2500 word story that I wrote for my children in 1996.

The last entry of March 2013 says, in part, “I woke up this morning, well, it was really almost 11. Anyway, I was looking around and my eye caught on some star wands that I need to give my granddaughters, from a mutual friend. Soon I had a story rumbling in my head and I was off. I have been writing and editing all damn day long, and half the night! I made some coffee, finally ate a snack, packed some things for my move [home relocation] tomorrow and wrote like crazy. I completed a children’s story 10 words shy of 4000 words. Crazy. It just came out. Does it happen like that for you? And, hey, I have no illusions that this would not get whittled in half by a real editor, but I’m good with that. It is the process that is so…gripping, so addictive.”

April- 12 entries. This was my third month going to the local writer group that I joined, and I posted,  “Have been checking out and “following” several other writer blogs. Have been “invited” to join a writer site that allows us to give and receive feed-back. I am learning about the current trends in writing and publishing…” Another entry, Good Grief, A Widow Writes A Memoir, http://wp.me/p3i5jo-V explains some of the things I was learning about memoir writing and how painful it can be to write about Paul’s illness and death. Still is.

Breakfast for fawn. Across from my driveway. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Breakfast for fawn. Across from my driveway.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

I posted about a writer retreat and a writer conference in Homer, Alaska, which is also home to one of my sisters and her husband. I began taking a writing class taught by a local writer, and I met several other writers there. I posted a poem that I wrote for Paul’s 60th birthday in 2007. I made an ambitious attempt at a blogging schedule. Hilarious, if you really know me; the “s” word and me are not close.

I signed onto several more social media venues and shared some sites with helpful information for writers. I touched on some newsy information in one post, about the way technology is taking away our privacy. I wrote a poem about the deaths and injuries in the Boston marathon bombing and the explosion in Texas. I posted a short story about a child molester/monster.

Kites down on beach. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Kites down on beach.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

I moved Maggie (my trailer/cave/home) from the bay outside of Westport, into Westport proper and closer to the beach. The worst shock and heartache of my life happened on the 26th, when my grandson died. Still dealing with the other recent losses in my life, I stopped blogging for awhile.

May- 13 entries. I lost my mind a bit, but returned to blogging late in the month, with 2 poems on grief and loss. Lady In The Cave http://wp.me/p3i5jo-1N and Treasured Souls http://wp.me/p3i5jo-1P  were followed by a post complaining about the new parameters for the medical definition of grief. I wrote a few other poems/essays and shared some of the writing/publishing information that I was learning. Still very few visitors or followers on my blog, but I kept on. This was my first poetry/photo combo post: Beach Bird Bliss http://wp.me/p3i5jo-2c and it made me realize how much readers enjoy photos along with the words.

Fresh seed pod on tree. PHALL PHOTO 2013 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS19

Fresh seed pod on tree.
PHALL PHOTO 2013
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS19

June- 22 entries. This was a very busy writing month and I had some fun with the essay, Things That Go Rrrrr, Crash, and Drip In The Night http://wp.me/p3i5jo-4w. I also got better at working with photos and started posting photos for Word Press Daily Prompts and Weekly Photo Challenges. I posted quite a bit under Writing Journal as I learned about and organized for successful memoir writing. The post, New! Dedicated Memoir Page and Sneak Peek of Prologue http://wp.me/p3i5jo-3m tells the story of how I got from the house that Paul and I shared, to living at the beach. What I Would Tell You Now http://wp.me/p3i5jo-3v is a letter to my late husband, written long after he was gone. I also started writing and submitting book reviews this month.

Butterfly on Flower in my friend's garden. Phall Photo 2013

Butterfly on Flower in my friend’s garden.
Phall Photo 2013

These are busy days, but I will try to post the summary of July-December 2013, in the next few days… Still not smoking and happy about it, over 2 months later!!!!!!!! Was thrilled to know that one of my sisters quit smoking 4 days ago too. So cool.

Happy Almost Spring!

Patti

Thistles PHALL PHOTO 2013

Thistles
PHALL PHOTO 2013

 


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EDDD 10; Is Writing Your Business?

crabMy horoscope for today, written by me. Some planets appear to be nearing collision point, which has caused a sh**tstorm of emotions for you today, dear Cancer. You are a water sign, hence the tears and the feeling of sinking, even though you are swimming as fast as you can. You will be forced to make hard decisions relating to family, caves and plants. You will hide in your shell, enjoy uplifting friendships online, share amazing wonders and put decisions off to another day. After all, you are a crab.

Is Writing Your Business?

Yes? Then you’ve probably already run across these two dynamos; Kristine Kathryn Rusch at http://kriswrites.com/ and her husband/business partner Dean Wesley Smith at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/.

Kris and Dean are not only some of the most prolific writers that I have seen, but they also have the business end of writing down to a science. I have been enjoying Kris’s Free Fiction Friday and her business e-newsletter for many months. Dean is a proponent of indie authors not giving their work away, and he backs it up with examples. Both have sound author and freelance business advise.

That’s my gem for today, “see” you all tomorrow. I have officially blown this deadline. Computer crashed and I couldn’t get back on in time. I guess I should start hours ahead of midnight?

 

Peace,

Patti

From writing challenge Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/


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A Writer/Caregiver Packs For A New Journey

Tokeland, WA PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tokeland, WA
PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tomorrow (Friday) I set off on a new journey. It may take a week, a month or maybe longer. The timeline is open and so am I. I’ve detailed my truck, except I need to vacuum it. I’ve re-potted and watered my houseplants. I stirred the compost pile and planted the lilac and rose by the fence, and a handful of mini-crocus near the pond’s edge.

I’m fairly certain that I can come home once a week. Mrs. M.’s grand daughter lives near and should be able to manage a day and night with her. It’s over 300 miles, round trip, so I hope I can break that into 2 days. I’ve got the edited hard copy of my Postcards manuscript packed and I’ll also be working on the middle book of the memoir series. I’ll take my laptop, but I will hold off on taking my printer until I have a better idea of how long I’ll be needed.

The biggest thing I will miss is my little cave/home (Maggie) and the beach. It will just be the two of us and I’ll have my own room, so I can still be a part-time cave woman:>)  I look forward to getting to know Mrs. M. better and seeing what mischief we can come up with in Portland. I’m certain to get a better schedule going and get outside more often.

Journaling is a strong habit for me, so I do plan to journal about my time with Mrs. M. I know I’ll take a lot of photos of my new surroundings. I am sure that I will be online and checking in with all of you at least a few times a week. As you can tell, until I get settled, everything is up in the air. That would frustrate many people, but I really look forward to the mystery of it. I am very adaptable and change doesn’t bother me.

The big difference with helping out this time is that I don’t know Mrs. M. I have met her maybe 3 times over the years. She has passed the main part of physical therapy and does not need a lot of assistance there. Also, there is no stress or heart break related to her care. She may be almost 91, but she is mentally sharp and physically on the mend.

These links will take you back to the posts where I talked about this new adventure and my other caregiver experiences. Here and here.

Did you notice that I changed to a static “home” page? Check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think. I am still working on the site…

Take care,

Patti


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 2

Bridge Along The Journey PHALL PHOTO 2013

Bridge Along The Journey
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Metaphor musings. Bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity…into the horizon…

Continued from Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

An executive caregiver position came open many years later. (No phone call this time.) By then, my children were out on their own and I had divorced their step father. I was 4 years into the best relationship that I could ever have imagined. And then, my partner in life and business, was diagnosed with leukemia. I became Paul’s 24/7 caregiver. The hats I wore covered all aspects of our lives during the year of his illness, treatment, stem cell transplant, our hospital wedding and his final battle with graft vs host disease. We were fortunate to have a strong group of supporters in our family and friends. We all learned so many lessons during this time, that Paul and I began to plan a book about it. My 3-part memoir series of love, illness and loss is a work-in-progress.

I readily admit that nepotism was involved in my next caregiver position. The patient was my mother. My family (2 parents in their 70’s, and 6 siblings in their 40’s and 50’s) were still reeling from the loss of my sister in February 2012. Two months later, my mother had an accident that left her with two broken arms, 2 black eyes and a variety of pain, from head to toe. Yep, I got the call. I was back on an airplane heading north. It had only been five weeks since I returned home from Alaska after my sister’s death,

When I arrived back in Alaska, my brother picked me up and took me straight to the hospital. I stayed in my mother’s hospital room that night, and we took her home the next day.  Mom was unable to care for herself at all. I became her right-hand and left-hand person, and slept beside her at night. I would like to break off and tell you what an amazingly strong woman my mother is, but I will leave for another day.

Two of my siblings live nearby and they circled the wagons to provide support and relief. I stayed in Alaska 4 months and wore many hats while I lived with my parents. My most rewarding role was that of adult daughter to my parents, but the second best was that of caregiver to my mother. I was also able to spend some special time with 2 of my sisters and their families, as well as both of my brothers. I flew home to Washington in August, on the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death.

A holiday bonus. The patriarch (I call him “dad”) sent Ms. Daisy (mom) and I on the vacation of a lifetime in late November 2012. I joined my Alaska family for Thanksgiving, then mom and I toured the Hawaiian Islands for weeks. We spent Christmas and New Year’s with my Arizona sister (it was her twin who we lost earlier that year) and her family. Mom flew home from Washington in January, after visiting her sister and the rest of our Washington family. [3 months later my grandson died and mom flew back to Washington to mourn with, and nurture our family here]

To make a long story short (hahaha), I received another call. It was the call from my sister that I wrote about in the first paragraph of Part 1 of this post. I’m still not perfect, but I guess I will keep on practicing this caregiver role, until I get it right. I am looking forward to this new adventure of giving care to Mrs. M. in Oregon.

I’ve taken some time this week to ponder the meaning of these calls-to-action that keep arriving in my life. They seem to be bridges to the next part of my journey, rather than minor side trips. So, now I have to wonder where this next bridge will lead me…

You can be sure that when I get the call that Mrs. M is being released, my laptop, printer and works-in-progress will be traveling with me, so please hang out for more.

How will you answer the call? Has a caregiver call been a bridge in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts and experience (in the comment section).

Here are these Helpful Links again:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

Holding You Up A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii PHALL PHOTO 2012

Holding You Up
A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii
PHALL PHOTO 2012

by Patti Hall

They Say That Practice Makes Perfect

Technically, I wasn’t looking for practice or perfection when I answered my sister’s phone call from Alaska a few days ago. Just last week I was deep into my grieving cave-woman mode. Tuesday, I traveled about 350 miles (round trip) to a convalescent facility in Oregon. I met with the care team of my sister’s mother-in-law, Mrs. M.  Yesterday I started cleaning, packing and planning for an extended stay at the home of Mrs. M. in Portland, as her caregiver.

Caregiver: Is This A Calling And/Or A Bridge?

My caregiver internship began within the parameters of my first parenting role when I was 28 years old. That’s what parents do, they give care. Care-giving starts when you wake up in the morning, extends throughout the day, and continues into the night. It is wiping snotty noses, changing diapers, feeding, clothing and loving those in your care. Care-giving is sleepily welcoming a tearful dreamer under your covers, and into your arms, in the middle of the night.

To further my caregiver qualifications, I answered the phone and agreed to join a caregiver group in California. A troupe of his sisters and nieces, gathered at the home of my maternal uncle, when he was in the last stages of his battle against cancer. We came from 3 states; sometimes one at a time, sometimes overlapping, but one of us was always at his side. Despite my uncle’s sad prognosis, he basked in the songs of this Florence Nightingale choir. The songs were expressed in our laughter and love. We nurtured, laughed, cried, reminisced and took care of his physical needs. It was the first time that I truly considered how fragile life is.

A few years later, an interim caregiver position came available via an out-of-state call from my children’s father, aka my former husband. His mother was in her 80’s, living alone and had recently been widowed. She was not doing well emotionally, although, she was physically fine. I packed my bag, drove 100 miles north and left my own family to fend for themselves (again). K and I had known each other for many years and we had remained friends.

K was in deep grief and needed help with the mounds of paperwork and legal procedures that come after a death. While her son handled his job and household transfers from Utah to Washington, I helped K negotiate the details at hand. The signs of dementia came on fast and I consulted her son over the phone. I took K to her doctor and explained our concerns. She was poked and prodded and tested.

I received a promotion. Along with K’s paperwork, legal matters and emotional distress (grief), I had to keep her physically safe. From herself. Household hazards suddenly loomed everywhere. She was a fragile child one moment and an angry woman in the next moment. By the time her son came, K and I were exhausted and traumatized by trying to navigate the chaos brought on by the changes taking place within her brain. I returned home and wished that I could have done more.

Stay tuned, Part 2 will be posted soon…more caregiver experiences and I ponder whether this role is a calling or bridge to the next step in my life.

Have you answered the call? We’d love to hear your story in the comment section.

Helpful Links:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources about dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti

Not Writing, but What The H Have I Been Doing?

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085

Oh, this and that. Crafting and reading to my little grands, taking over daughter Sara’s kitchen to make Chinese Chicken Salad, visiting gr’son in Tacoma, having a quiet week with my fishing & gardening son in Westport, building secret garden with pond, and taking a lot of photos. Will post more on phallphotos.com later this week….including a variety of bees on a variety of flowers and a tattooed seal!

Saturday (later today) I play leader of our writing group and Jon is going to be my assistant! Trying to convince him to read a poem he wrote. We are taking both laptops to show everyone some of the cool writing sites and our group’s new blog site that we set up.  Also, get to announce date for our first mini writer’s conference this winter. Should be fun…especially if I don’t get any sleep:>)

I’m reading a little bit and will have some reviews up soon.

Grieving is an interesting journey. At times, I can hold grief in my arms and rock until it drifts off. Sometimes grief walks beside me like a shadow. Sometimes I have to carry its heavy weight on my back everywhere I go. Other times it slams me to the mat like a wrestler does his opponent.

Grief has this thing about mixing things up too.  I cry over anything/everything, yet I get immense joy at the smallest things. I’m exhausted, yet I can’t sleep., or I sleep for 12 hours. I want to be close to my peeps, yet I have to have my solitude; I pull you close, then push you away. I can’t think straight, misplace everything, forget everything, yet I can upload photos and (hopefully) lead a writing group. I crave food, yet I’m too unmotivated to make or eat it, and when I do, it doesn’t taste right anyway.  I have a very difficult time making any decision and am allergic to commitment.  I mean even tiny ones; “Mom, you want to come out to the docks while I fish?” “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know when we get there.” If I can force myself to get out of my truck, I go, if not, I sit and read or head back home. You just never know with me. And I never know with me. That’s grief for ya.

Don’t fret though, I AM pulling myself off the mat and watching for a brighter day.

Take it easy and thank you for hanging in there while I regroup.

Patti

This gallery contains 21 photos