I spent a lot of time Not Writing this year and I am disappointed in myself.
The year started off strong and I even signed up for a month-long online writing course. (Alice Bradley’s The Practice of Writing, which appears to be offline for updating so I’ve linked to her blog’s homepage.) I really enjoyed the course, but struggled to find the time to do the daily exercises. When I got really behind I would go through rapid-fire catchup sessions while Sean would get Flora ready for bed. Then, when my colleague went on a two-week vacation, I was doing a lot more at work and was just too burned out to write at night. Truthfully, there were probably only a few tough days at work, but once you start on a Not Writing cycle, it’s hard to get back to Writing. I acknowledged that I didn’t give the class the attention that it deserved – or that I wanted to give it. I have the PDF of all the class notes in my email, and I haven’t had the guts to even look at it yet. The course ended more than six months ago. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t just keep up and keep going.
I still feel ashamed, and I’ve wondered many times over the last few months if I should just give up writing and blogging altogether. I’m still here so I haven’t given up yet. but I haven’t figured out how to shut the negative voices up and just write anyway.
I’ve written a few blog posts and percolated ideas since then. I know logically that writing leads to more writing, which leads to better writing. I know I need to kick my own ass to actually make the time. I’m hoping the dark and bleakness of winter will encourage me to write. If not that, football season and Sean’s new Xbox will keep me away from the TV so that’s one distraction gone.
So many people/magazine articles/advice givers/general know-it-alls say ‘get up an hour earlier’. I already leave my house by 6:30am on weekday mornings. In a perfect world, I’d be leaving at 6:15 and getting out of bed at 5:45am at the latest. I just can’t get up any earlier. I stay up after Flora goes to bed so that I can have time to myself. Sometimes I even spend it with my husband. (Blasphemous, I know.) I’m usually in bed by 10pm, and I need that sleep. I need that time with my husband. I need that time with myself. I want to use more of that time to write, but lately, I’m just so burnt that I can’t do more than read or play The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Those hobbies are valuable to me too. (I started playing Tapped Out because Sean was playing it and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Now it’s one of the few video games we’ve ever played together, which is a nice bonding experience.)
I’m writing now, so I’m hoping that will open the floodgates a bit. Maybe that will lead to some actual Writing. Or just plain old ordinary writing. I’m willing to start small.
I added a new page to the site back in September: Previous logos for hellomelissa.net. The page shows the previous logos I’ve created for this site and tells the stories behind each one. If you’re into graphic design or the evolution of my website (or websites in general), be sure to check it out!
If you have questions about how I decide to brand my site and the designing that goes with that, please ask and I’ll answer in a future post.
Back in July, we lost Buckley, our beloved family cat. At nearly 15 years old, he had had a long life, but a sudden illness paralyzed the back end of his body and we had a difficult decision to make.
Buckley was a crabby little kitten, and was actually returned to the pet store by a woman who said he didn’t get along with the cats she already had. Sean overheard her and thought “That’s the cat for me!” and promptly brought him home. When someone picked him up, he’d take a flying leap out of their arms. He eventually settled down but I’d say he adored Sean and tolerated the rest of us.
When Sean and I lived in a first-floor apartment many years ago, we came home one night to see a little black cat wandering around.
“Aww. That cat looks like Buckley.”
“That cat is Buckley.”
And the chase was on to get our indoor cat back inside before he got lost or was run over. When he escaped the house, he liked to hide just far enough under cars so that we couldn’t reach him.
Buckley generally avoided Flora. Like many older cats who suddenly have to share their home with a baby human, I think he was horrified by all the new noises and activity. Flora was taught to be gentle with Buckley from a young age and remarkably, she didn’t chase after him too much. I caught him sleeping on her bed when she was away on at least two different occasions. I like to think he loved her from a distance. I know Flora loved him too.
We all loved him. He was a good cat and an important member of our family. We miss him.
< Insert long, drawn-out, trite paragraph about how I haven’t been writing because I’m too busy Enjoying My Summer With My Family here. >
That’s not quite how not writing here for two months happened, but at least that’s out of the way now.
This time of year feels filled with promise but I still end up with a case of the sads. I love summer and the end of Labour Day always feels like such a buzzkill. I’m the one reminding everyone that summer isn’t actually over yet, but everyone else is too excited about their new school supplies and sweaters to really listen.
My end-of-summer melancholy comes with a side of guilt too. My birthday was on Saturday and Flora’s is on Wednesday. Hello thirty-five and five. I shouldn’t be sad around my birthday! And I really shouldn’t be sad around Flora’s birthday either. I like birthdays and getting older doesn’t trouble me much (yet – let’s be honest here). Because this year’s birthdays are significant (in that they’re easily divisible by five), I keep looking at the two of us and wondering “When did it all happen? Am I a good enough mum? Do I do enough for my family?” Then I wish for the proverbial Room of My Own so I can just sit down and create something without everyone hanging off of me and listening to the soundtrack of my choosing. I need to toughen up on that stuff. If I wait for the time to be right, I will never make the time to write.
/end tangent here.
It’s been a good summer. My tomato plants grew taller than Flora and are now drooping over their cages. I’ve harvested the yummiest cherry tomatoes ever for a couple of weeks. I will probably have tomatoes of various types well into September if not longer (weather-dependent of course). We spent lots of time outside. We barbecued. We were just another Ontario family enjoying their summer. And I’m not ready for that summer to be over yet.
Team Mitchell was on vacation last week. We laid low at home and it was wonderful.
Highlights of the week include:
Sean’s birthday. We picked up dinner and had our neighbours over for dinner. I made a cherry cheesecake and it was pretty good for someone who doesn’t bake. I made it from a box, but still, I made cake! I should have made him wear the Dora party hat we have in the cupboard from Flora’s 2nd birthday.
Our ninth wedding anniversary. We didn’t do much to celebrate it, but we did acknowledge it.
I read six novels. I have completed my challenge for 2013 to read 35 books. Now I need to up the number since there’s a lot of 2013 left. Some novels were trashy, but that’s what summer reading is all about.
I played with Instagram video. I’m not sure if I love it yet, but it is fun.
I took Flora to the ROM. The train trips to and from were big adventures, but an unexpected highlight of our trip was the bat cave. I was convinced she would be terrified of it, but we walked through that thing at least six times in a row.
Lots of time spent outside. We went to the park, the splash pad and spent lots of time in the backyard. My favourite afternoon was spent in the backyard just enjoying my family, talking, hanging out and playing.
We’re back to our regular routine today – Sean and I at work and Flora at her school for summer camp. I think our return to routine was almost welcome, but I’ll still look forward to the next backyard party this weekend.