Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Life at the Moment

Normally, my life feels pretty boring. Life goes along day by day and nothing much of note happens. However, lately, there's been a flurry of activity both physically and emotionally.

Emotionally, I've been somewhat of a basket-case, filled with excitement and anxiety at the same time. I have sent my most recent manuscript out to six individuals (beta readers) seeking their feedback. This is always both a good and bad thing. While it provides an opportunity to see how my writing is received, it opens the door to criticism and when it comes to writing, that can be a sensitive topic. I've asked them to be absolutely honest and to identify the moment they no longer wish to read, if they decide not to read it (I had to warn them because the manuscript is still over 100 thousand words long, despite efforts to pare it back a bit).

So far, the only one I've heard back from is my sister, who says she is loving it. Of course, the members of my current writer's group (a group that meets now at my local library) question the validity of having a family member as a beta reader because they are sure to simply give glowing reviews. Still, my sister volunteered and I value her opinion. She did, indeed, give me some negative feedback on the only other manuscript she read (she didn't feel drawn to the main character, possibly even disliked her). At my most recent writer's group meeting, I had a chance to read the first few pages of my If Bones Could Speak novel and was quite pleased with the positive response I received.

I am also besieged with anxiety about my parents. I have mentioned before that my mother is battling some onset of dementia. Normalcy in routine is quite important. Alas, their routines (their very lives) have been disrupted in a most unsettling way. A short time before Mother's Day, they discovered extensive mold in their home and they have had workmen there ever since, attempting to determine the source of the moisture or leak. Their house (even chaotic normally due to years of accumulating books, videos, knick-knacks, and photos) is in a state of total disarray as they have had to move boxes and belongings out of the way so the men can dig up flooring beneath the laundry room and kitchen. They are running loud machines to draw the moisture out of the air. My father is sick as a result of exposure and my mother is distraught, to say the least.

Of course, my father feels led to remain there while the workmen excavate the home, but that leaves my mother there in the midst of all the chaos as well. My sister and I have tried to get him to ask someone else to take my mother (perhaps down to their church to help out or even just be away from it all), but he believes she would be distressed by that even more. Dawn and I have talked about going down to help (she could assist my father in clearing away more junk and making decisions about the remodeling that will have to take place, while I could take my mother out somewhere to get her away from the mayhem). The whole business has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind and I feel horrible to be so far away and of so little use to them.

Physically, I've been busy as well. I had joined Bible Study Fellowship back in January and it just wound down to the end with the final sharing day last week. Then, I attended a women's retreat this past weekend. My BSF leader had invited me to a women's retreat, but it required staying in a large room with hosts of other women I did not know. I turned that opportunity down, but felt led to accept another when my Salvation Army corps officer invited me to the divisional women's retreat, held this past weekend.

It was a good time. The guest speaker was Chrystal Evans Hurst (Tony Evans' daughter) and she gave two inspiring talks on Saturday.

I paid a bit extra to stay in a lodge room instead of a cabin and was thrilled to room with an old friend from a past music camp staff. Even though at times I felt a bit like a fish out of water because I'm not really close to any of the women there, it was still a very refreshing weekend and I felt blessed by the opportunity to gather for spiritual nourishment and a break from my mothering routines. My roommate even offered to read my manuscript, so I have sent it off again for review.

Another flurry of activity is approaching. We are leaving soon for a family vacation to Cedar Point. We had to schedule it for mid-May because Bryce begins his internship with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and it goes clear to the time he returns to Purdue in the fall. After we return, we will have Trevor's 5th grade graduation and Bryce's girlfriend Madisyn's high school graduation open house and possibly that trip with my sister to assist my parents. So things feel much more harried than usual. In addition, my mind is bracing for another music camp leadership position and I am wondering what I will be called upon to do.

I'm happy to be in this state of agitation. It's good for me. I need times of stress in addition to times of boredom. It does make reading a bit more challenging, but it fills a need for a different kind of stimulation.

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