Claire Fuller

Update: Now that I’m (tentatively she said) back to blogging, I want to start with a blog update. For anyone who is still interested in participating in the 2018 Attitude of Gratitude (#BloggersUnite #AttitudeofGratitude), I’ve extended it until January 31st at 11:59pm. One would think I’d learn by now; it takes a while for this to catch on. There have been so many lovely additions, so many wonderful bloggers adding their gratitude posts in the last week, that it only makes sense to make it last longer. I’ve loved reading every one of them, and have been especially tickled (yes, tickled) by the number of new to me bloggers I’ve met. Just wonderful! So I’m extending the deadline, in the hopes that others will join us; there can’t be too much gratitude! So, if you’re interested, or no someone who is, please check out the details here. You can also find all of the other entries at the end of my post. If you join and link back to my piece, I will add your name as well. Join us! (If you can’t tell, all those link backs are meant to lead you back to my post)

And now, drum roll please…. the enormously talented author and writer, Claire Fuller:

 

 

I first got to know Claire Fuller through an online flash fiction group that we both participate in, Friday Fictioneers. It’s open to anyone who wants to create a story form the weekly photo prompt, and brings folks from all over the world together. For nearly two years I never missed a week. Then for another year my submissions were less consistently, and now it’s been a year or so since I’ve contributed… I’m getting ready to change that. Writers like Claire, Amy* (who introduced me to FF), Rochelle, Sandra, CE, Dale, Russell, Louise, Lish, Loré, Bjorn* –– and so many other wonderful writers–– became my online friends and writing community. Each week they provided encouragement and feedback for my stories, and some of us got to know each other a little better via messenger and the comments we left on one another’s stories. *Some of these people I’ve met in person, as I’ve travelled. That is always icing on the cake! I haven’t met Claire in person, but I feel like we know each other, and it’s been a joyful experience to watch her journey from aspiring to now successful published author.

From the start I was drawn to the magic Claire wove in 100 words–– creating beautiful scenes, dialogue and story arcs in so few words. When her first book, Our Endless Numbered Days, was published, I anticipated a wonderful story and I was not disappointed; it’s spectacular! Her second book, Swimming Lessons, proved that she was a writer with stories to tell, and not a one hit wonder. Her newest book, Bitter Orange establishes Fuller as a writer who will be remembered.

In Bitter Orange, Claire Fuller’s writing is atmospheric, sharp and compelling. It reads like an English classic, with modern edge and intelligence. The mood is dreamy and mysterious, but holds the reader tight, as dying Frances Jellico reflects back on a few weeks in the summer of 1969, when her life was changed forever. After her mother’s death, Frances accepts a job in a dilapidated country estate in England, researching and reporting on the condition of a bridge on the property–– her area of knowledge. Frances dreams of finding fame in the discovery of a Palladian bridge; she dreams of connection and normalcy. From the start, it’s unclear whether any of these things are possible.

Staying in the rooms below her sparse attic room is a mysterious, provocative couple, Cara–– fragile and unpredictable, and Peter–– attractive, aloof and an expert on architecture. He is there to catalogue the estate. Frances discovers a spy hole in the floor of her bathroom and is drawn into the volatile and mysterious life of this seductive couple. Their stories intersect and Frances finds herself increasingly drawn into a world she’s never experienced, having lived a sheltered existence as her mother’s caretaker for ten years. Her world and that of Peter and Cara’s could not be more different.

The town’s vicar, Victor, sits beside Frances as her life fades, trying to uncover facts from this shocking summer. He draws out her story slowly, seeking the truth of the events that rocked his world as well. Just as Victor sits on the edge of his seat each day, eliciting more and more of Frances’ story, Fuller’s vivid and beautiful storytelling propels the reader deeper into her strange world.

It’s a story that slowly twists and turns, keeping the reader riveted, while seducing them with languid pacing. I found myself sure of things, only to realize I’d gone down the wrong path, just as Frances does. This book reminded me of Sophie’s Choice in the narration, with thriller elements of Girl On The Train (without any of the cliché), and a magical feel reminiscent of The Little Princess. A strange mix of references, but Fuller’s writing is that special.

I could not put this book down, and finished it in less than 2 days… reading every chance I got. If you are looking for a book that pulls you in, holds you close, and leaves you replaying scenes for weeks, Bitter Orange is a must read. Claire Fuller is a master story teller. She had me at 100 words, but oh what she can do with 323 pages!

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GIPYKAPOW! Have you stopped by Tales From the Motherland Facebook page to spread some fairy dust? I’m grateful for each Like. Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (for real… well, he did. But he may have dropped me recently)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2019  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Grateful

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gratitude |ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od|

noun

the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness: she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support.

The dictionary gives that definition for the word Gratitude. It’s an expression we use frequently in our society, and I believe, often without thought. “I’m so grateful it’s sunny!” Sure, it’s nice that it’s sunny. You might not want rain right now. But perhaps you haven’t stopped and felt a true sense of gratitude for the sun–– that it provides warmth, it helps things grow, it brightens our moods, it creates power… you’re happy that it’s not raining, happy to see the sun, but are you feeling true gratitude?

I frequently hear people talk about keeping gratitude journals these days. I see a lot of focus on gratitude, but I also notice a lot of negativity and a lack of gratitude.

I’m just as guilty as the next person of complaining, and not pausing to feel gratitude for the many fortunate things in my life. I have many blessings–– I word I use with little or no attention to faith. My life is good, and there is much to be grateful for. Yet it’s easy to focus on the negative political climate, the destruction of our natural environments and the planet as a whole (and if you don’t believe that’s happening; just move on to another post); the person on the bus/at the intersection/in line at the store that was rude to me, or so many other things that happen daily, which do not bring gratitude. These things can mount and easily push my buttons.

It’s easy to forget that the sun did shine; there are people like me, in many places, working to save our planet; someone at the store stepped aside for me or smiled kindly. I might forget that I have friends and family who love me. I have a beautiful home, clean easy water, and good food to eat. I have two dogs that make me smile every morning. I’ve been married for thirty-two years to someone who loves me and is always there for me. I have excellent health care, even if I get annoyed by small details of that healthcare. There’s a long list of things that I could pause and feel grateful for, each and every day, but I don’t always do that.

I think many people use happiness and gratitude interchangeably, but I don’t believe the two are one and the same. It’s often written that “happiness is fleeting” (here, here, here), while I believe that true gratitude is far more sustaining. It makes sense to me, that if someone focuses on gratitude, and feels it in its truest sense, it’s likely to be more lasting. It’s something that fills you and is likely to create that fleeting happiness, and also likely to leave a deeper sense of appreciation that lingers beyond when the happiness has… well, fleeted.

For the fifth year in a row, I recently hosted the Attitude of Gratitude. The history of it is spelled out in that post, but it started five years ago with a focus on happiness, more than gratitude. Over time, my focus has shifted a little. I’ve realized that in asking others to focus on gratitude, I’m asking each of us to really pause and appreciate all of the things in life that we’re grateful for, the things that are not necessarily fleeting–– the things we might take for granted, because they are so essential to our happiness, but in our tendency to notice them in those fleeting moments of happiness, we forget just how grateful we are for them.

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No doubt, there are countless things in each of our lives that we take for granted and rarely express real gratitude for each day:  Clean air, safety, love, companionship, and easy access to food–– to name some basics. For instance, how often do you really pause to think about how important clean water is, and how fortunate you are to have it? So many people in the world don’t. So many people walk miles, often hours each way, just to get safe water for washing and drinking. So many people die because they don’t have it. Such a simple thing, yet we seldom take the time to be grateful for.

So far 14 bloggers have participated in this year’s Attitude of Gratitude; I’ve included links to their posts, at the bottom of mine. I know several other people who chose to write lists and take the challenge, but who do not blog and/or did not post their lists. That’s something I feel truly grateful for! I’ve read every one of those lists, and I’m always struck by how many things other people share, that I too feel grateful for. Many of these things elicit happiness daily, but in that concept of fleeting, I’m aware that I don’t take the time I should to actually celebrate some of them. I don’t pause enough and allow myself to actively feel the gratitude some of they’re worthy of. I’d like to keep a gratitude journal, but I don’t. I’ve tried, and it did in fact make me feel good. But I didn’t keep it up.

So, once a year I’m happy to “flood the internet” with gratitude. I’m under no illusion that the flood is small, but I do believe that gratitude begets more gratitude, and that… is something I feel very grateful for.

What are you grateful for? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. 

The Attitude of Gratitude is scheduled to end on January 15th. If you would still like to join us, please check out the details here. Follow the instructions, and add your link to the InLinkz. I will also add a link to your post on my own post.

 

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GIPYKAPOW! Have you stopped by Tales From the Motherland Facebook page to spread some fairy dust? I’m grateful for each Like. Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (for real… well, he did. But he may have dropped me recently)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2019  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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The 2018 Annual Attitude of Gratitude: Bloggers Flood The Internet With Happiness & Positivity!

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It’s the 5th annual Attitude of Gratitude! In the past I’ve called it 50 Happy Things, but the goal is the same: to see bloggers unite to flood the internet with gratitude. Happy-Gratitude, it all = Good stuff! For the past two years I’ve opted out on New Year’s resolutions and decided to go with intention. It’s been a challenging few years, and I decided to focus on gratitude; it’s always timely. The Linkup is effective from today until January 31st at 11:59pm. Share this with your blogging friends; join us in spreading gratitude!

I’m doing this a teeny bit differently this year, based on feedback from some of you, and observations from the past 4 years. First, this is really a blog hop as well as a chance for all of us to pause and share positivity. So, please follow these simple instructions:

1) Please read my post/list and leave a like and a comment. It feels good to be appreciated. I’ll do the same. What’s not to like; it’s gratitude!

2) Add a link to this/my post in your post, so your readers come back to read mine; I can add their link to the collection, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. It’s a bigger tidal wave of positivity if we’re all linked. It’s more fun! In addition, I love reading all of the posts, and once they link to me, I’ll add their link at the bottom of mine.

3) Set a timer for 15 minutes. Really; do it (it’s in red, clearly I mean it). This isn’t your usual post. It’s meant to be as spontaneous as you can be. It’s not supposed to be finessed, but from the heart. You’re not explaining every thing you put on your list, you are just listing as many things as you can, in 15 minutes. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write things that make you happy, or things you’re grateful for. Don’t think too hard; just write what comes to mind in the time allotted. If you use the numbered mode and just type what comes to mind, it’s easy. When the timer’s done, finish whatever sentence you’re on and stop writing. If you’d like to add links or photos, do it after the timer; keep your list short and spontaneous. 

4) Be sure to click on the blue link at the bottom of my post, and add your info to the inlinkz, so that folks can find all of us in one place. I will also add each of you to the bottom of my post. I update it daily.

5) Include instructions in your piece, or provide a link to mine, and ask your readers to join us.

6) Finally, when you tag your piece, or share it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media, use these hashtags #AttitudeOfGratitude #BloggersUnite to our impact is collective.

The holiday season has a way of rushing in every year, making it hard to remember that throughout the year there are blessings. There are so many things that bring joy, so many happy things; yet it’s easy to lose sight of this fact, as we manage busy lives. For the fifth year in a row, this is an opportunity to hit pause and focus on all the good things that each of us has in our lives.

In 2014 I followed in the footsteps of Jen over at Jenny’s Lark, and wrote a list of 50 things (in 10 minutes) that I was grateful for in 2014. The list actually became 60 things, because I still had time, and a lot to be grateful for. The exercise was originally a spin off a Daily Prompt challenge. Those Daily Prompts are something to be happy/grateful about, if you haven’t checked them out yet, do it now! Jen’s an incredibly talented woman, who works to help others at work, and then comes home and creates beautiful artwork and gorgeous writing. Check out her blog for a dose of true magic. Jen and I had so much fun with it in 2014, that we added links to each other’s blogs, and other bloggers followed suit.

In 2015, happy-gratitude exploded as I invited a few bloggers and suggested we all come together and share gratitude. Bloggers begat more bloggers, in a blog hop of sorts and it grew… and grew… and grew! And once again, Jen had another great idea: focus on happy and be grateful. It’s about choosing happy, choosing positive, over the negative things that we could focus on. Gratitude or Happiness–– Chicken or egg?

The 2015 project–– something I thought would be small and easy–– turned into something huge, with 74 bloggers joining in. I met so many cool new bloggers, and my happiness and gratitude grew exponentially. In 2016 a lot of bloggers bowed-out. As the inauguration loomed, many said they just weren’t up for it. That year, I needed all of this positivity more than ever! There were 30 bloggers who shared their happy thoughts and gratitude.

Each year I’ve read every post, to see what we have in common, and how we differ. Those places where we meet, and where we are unique, are a beautiful thing and a great way to start the year.  Admittedly, it’s hard not to go back and edit my list, each time I find something wonderful on your lists… but it gives me things to focus on next year. When I express gratitude, I find myself feeling happy, and if I list happy things, I inevitably feel grateful–– either way, it’s win/win! I guarantee, you’ll find yourself smiling, feeling grateful and happy, if you spend 15 minutes reflecting on positivity. Couldn’t we all use more of that? Think of this as a blog party, to share happy, grateful thoughts. 

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What I am grateful for from 2018  (in no particular order)

  1. My family
  2. My kids
  3. My husband
  4. My 3-year-old grandson, Amitai- my sun, moon, and stars
  5. Boats on the water
  6. The full moon each month
  7. Popcorn
  8. Frozen dark chocolate covered bananas
  9. Going to the movies
  10. Whistler, Port Townsend, Home–– my happy places
  11. Water, to drink, to bath & swim in, to look at.
  12. Driving in my car, with the radio on
  13. Reunion with friends back east… AMAZING!
  14. Music, EVERY day
  15. Personal growth, therapy
  16. Sleep— I need a lot more of it
  17. Orgasms
  18. Puzzles
  19. My dogs Gracie and Luna
  20. Air flight, any travel
  21. Fresh flowers
  22. A first snow
  23. Girl’s night out
  24. Hiking solo
  25. Hiking with friends/family
  26. Alexa, and all the music she shares with me
  27. Dental floss
  28. WA state ferries
  29. Writing & blogging. My writing group.
  30. Good books. My book group.
  31. The blogging community- you guys rock!!
  32. Amitai- each and every chance I get to see him. (he lives overseas)
  33. Sun on the water
  34. My laptop
  35. The Internet–– it’s magic!
  36. My pillow w/a cold pillowcase
  37. My husband & friends, when I was recovering from meningitis
  38. British Airways, who got me home when I was so sick–– They rock!
  39. Anticipating the birth of our 2nd grandson, in January 2019
  40. Reuniting with my brother. It has been one of THE highlights of 2018!
  41. Green moss on trees
  42. Mountains
  43. The Pacific NW- it’s a magical place
  44. My dogs–– They make me smile every day!
  45. Regular dinner parties with friends
  46. My work at Hospice- The people I serve, the people I work with.
  47. Sunsets
  48. Good food.
  49. Sushi, sushi, sushi! Every Friday, and any other day.
  50. My cell phone—a computer in my hands
  51. Fresh sheets on my bed
  52. Fresh seafood
  53. Fall colors
  54. Our new property and the house we’re building (expected completion 3/20)
  55. The chance to design and create a home we will live forever in
  56. Museums–– art, and more art. Always art.
  57. SO EXCITED FOR OUR NEW GRANDSON… and to see the one who’s already here!
  58. The desert.
  59. Our trip to Tahiti— magic, beyond magic!
  60. Hummingbirds at my window daily
  61. My sea glass
  62. Yellow post-it notes
  63. Love & Kindness
  64. #MeToo & #TimesUp- knowing we are not alone, and feeling supported
  65. Friends who fill my life with joy. I am so grateful for each of you.
  66. Shoes. I might have a problem.

That’s my list for in 2018. I know I’ve forgotten some things, and I’m sure I’ll see things on your lists that inspire me; but that’s the point! There’s a lot to feel overwhelmed by these days–– in the news, in our cities, towns and homes, on our planet and in our environment. It’s good to stop and remember that there’s also a lot to be grateful for!

If you’re wondering: Yes, I do type very fast (I got an A in typing, 40 years ago!) and I had been thinking about this for a while. Once I set the timer, it went very fast. I added photos and links after I was done. That takes a lot longer!

Remember: please follow the instructions at the top. If you have any trouble with the link up (it can be confusing), feel free to contact/PM me on my Tales From the Motherland FB page, and I’ll help add your post. As I get link backs to mine, I’ll add each of you to the bottom of this post, so folks can find you two ways. Happy New Year and thanks for joining #BloggersUnite #AttitudeOfGratitude The 2018 Attitude of Gratitude is now officially open, and will close at 11:59pm Pacific on January 31, 2018.

Be sure to check out these other wonderful bloggers who have contributed this year : Melissa, Rochelle, April, Francine, DaleNa’ama, Suzanne, Marian, Avalonia, Isadora, Dawn, Blissfully Creating, Emma, Courtney, Stephanie

Inlinkz Link Party
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GIPYKAPOW! Have you stopped by Tales From the Motherland Facebook page to spread some fairy dust? I’m grateful for each Like. Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (for real… well, he did. But he may have dropped me recently)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2019  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Rumors Of My Demise… (an unplanned tutorial in blogging, and explanation for my disappearance)

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Ok, rumors may be a gross exaggeration. I’m not sure anyone is really reading this blog anymore; I’ve barely written anything in months. There would need to be an audience, for there to be rumors. And demise may be a stretch too. I haven’t written much, but I’m alive. And mostly well. Ok, this title may be a bait title. Or, it’s all true. The dictionary provides the following definition of demise: “• the end or failure of an enterprise or institution.” That’s not far off the mark when it comes to Tales From the Motherland. Demise is not too far off the mark, but one might argue that the word rumor stands as bait. 

Let me shed some light on this issue and make a humble attempt to explain myself, for whoever shows up. I’ll start at the beginning… So if you’ve been around The Motherland for a while, this is your big chance to slip out quietly. Hit like at the bottom, and I’ll never know. Wink wink. For newcomers–– are there any out there; do I even show up in people’s links? This is how I got to this exaggerated demise.

I started this blog in June of 2011 when my eldest child was getting ready to fly–– not on a trip, not a plane, but from the nest. I was probably peri-menopausal (sorry, TMI, unless you’ve been here long enough to know that nothing is TMI), and I began to really question what I wanted from life. “Me” or “I” had become completely tangled with mom, wife, and I felt like a woman who’d become a cliché, as I surged toward empty nest and mid-life. I didn’t necessarily realize all of this at the time. I just knew that something had to give, and my mental health seemed to be on the absolute edge of the abyss. Not an exaggeration. The name Tales From the Motherland had been kicking around in my thoughts for years, and I’d heard about this thing blogging, but honestly, I knew almost nothing. Ok, that’s an exaggeration; I knew nothing. I Googled it all.

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One day I’d Googled enough to get started and I signed up with Word Press and wrote my first post. No one read those first posts. I wrote them; I sent them out into the world, and crickets sang. But I felt better just putting it all down and watching it float off.

Shortly thereafter I ran away from home (as in packed my SUV with everything from rain boots, to food, a flashlight, books, a dressy outfit… in case I went to fancy place, and a full mishmash of things I thought I might need), and I spent 2 glorious weeks in Yellowstone–– a magical place that is perfect for finding peace and silence, and providing space to to dig into inner turmoil. It was divine. I met sexy fly fishermen, a mysterious old man at the top of a mountain, dined alone for those two weeks, and ate some balls. I got lost and was found.

Along the way I had a few–– and by few, I mean 1-3–– people read my posts. I won’t lie, it was a bummer. I wanted to be alone, but as I wrote those posts and sent them out, having no one to read them made my isolation seem that much more real. If you think this is an exaggeration, go back in my vault (on the right side of the main blog page) and check some of those early posts out. You will find likes and views by people who went back, like you, but in the beginning there weren’t even these guys. No one read them when they first came out. But, it was also one of the greatest adventures of my life! I came home refreshed and feeling fierce, and ready to blog.

Shortly after coming home, I wrote a post called The Grass Is Always Greener On Someone Else’s Head, a post that launched my blogging “career.” (The word career is definitely an exaggeration, but I’m running with it). It was Freshly Pressed, the predecessor to WordPress Discover, an honor. I didn’t even notice, because… well, frankly, I was used to not being read. Instead, I showed up at my 30th high school reunion and others told me that I was “famous!” I laughed. I cried. I was stunned. I looked up the word exaggeration. I read and answered every single comment, something I believe in and still do. It’s a lot easier now that my demise has come. Back then I hadn’t really dealt with comments. But at the time I would have responded to a thousand comments vs the 500 that came with that one blog post. I was that excited to just have others finally read my work.

Yada-yada-yada. From there I tumbled head first into the expansive world of blogging, with all its shiny moments and its pitfalls. It’s fun to put your visions and ideas out there and find an audience. It’s fun to connect with other bloggers and readers, who like what you do. I learned how to bring in readers; I figured out how to make each post more enticing. I wrote more often and engaged with other bloggers. I even made friends. Some of those friends were “famous” bloggers and I felt like I was lucky to be part of their group. And when you’re engaged in the comments, others skip over to your page to see what you’re about. Engagement begets more engagement. There are a lot of great bloggers out there and it’s well worth the work and commitment to get to know them. If you’re new to blogging, all the hype about connecting with other bloggers, it’s true. Don’t second guess the process; just do it.

There are folks out there who won’t like you or what you put out and that side can be draining. Trolls are real. There are family and friends who will not always understand or approve of what you put out there; that’s tough to balance and move around. I have two blogs, the other one, The Huntington Chronicles, is a much more intimate look at my family’s experience with Huntington Disease. My posts there have rattled some cages, and that feedback has not always been easy for me to deal with. I feel it’s my right to talk about my experiences with HD, and having family members who have it. I also know that there’s a tight line to walk with that. There are a lot of us out there who need to connect and find solidarity. But it’s also hard for my family members to always feel good about what I say. I don’t write there often, but when I do, it’s very real.

Here on TFTMotherland, my topics vary a lot more, and I find it easier to put my words out there. My kids are not always willing to let me share their stuff. I can’t use pictures for one; I have to change names sometimes; there are things that are totally off limits, and should be. I try really hard to respect their boundaries. I’ve long told younger bloggers–– those with younger kids, that it’s easy to write about our kids when they are small and either don’t know they are part of our groove, or like seeing their pictures on line, but when they get older that is much harder. I believe they have a right to say “this is off the record,” but it’s a buzzkill when I can’t share things that fill my world and then fill my head with words that want to find a place.

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Any way, throw in some depression; some exceptionally dark days where I wasn’t sure about living let alone writing, then some serious health issues (that I continue to juggle) and a political/national climate that has shaken me for two years–– and my blog has suffered. It might surprise you to hear that I probably write a blog post in my head, nearly every day. I think of blog titles, articles I’d like to write, and things I’d like to satirize or comment on. I have 56 drafts in my draft folder, of posts that are entirely written, partially written, or merely have titles. I promise myself I will start writing again. I want to do it. I really do! Then a week goes by, a month and months, with nothing out there.

You don’t have to sooth me. Don’t cheer me on either. I’m fine. I’m not looking for reassurance, ego boosting, or the likes. I’m ok; I’m just putting it out there. I’m making another attempt to get this rodeo going again. I want back on my horse. I’m ready to do the 4th annual Attitude of Gratitude (contact me for details if you’re curious), and I’ll be contacting a bunch of you. Because, while I may have had my head in the sand, there are so many of you that are in my thoughts often. You are blog buddies. Whether I’ve met you or not in person (and oh what fun it’s been to connect with so many of you!), we have shared connection and I think of you. I miss my flash fiction friends over at Friday Fictioneers. I miss reading your words and engaging with your comments. I save your posts, but then it becomes another barrier to writing, and I become paralyzed. But, I’m getting back in the saddle. You’ll see.

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So this post is a re-introduction to Dawn at Tales From the Motherland. This is me reaching out again. This is me telling you I’m working at this; I’m trying to ride that horse for real. I’ve got words to share. I’ve got experiences to put out there. I miss this, whether any one reads or not. I’m willing to start from the beginning, with my 10,000+ subscribers who don’t know I’m even out here (she said with a hint of sarcasm). I’m here and I’m not going away. If you walk away from this post with nothing else, know this: rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated.

Bonus for New bloggers: there are lots of hints here to getting your blogging mojo, but here’s the brief synopsis: be authentic (seriously); connect with other bloggers; respond to comments (why would I come back if you don’t even notice I was there?); know what you’re writing about; add pictures and fun links; link back to previous posts (man, this has been a virtual smorgasbord of my previous posts, luck you!); do some homework (Word press tutorials rock!), and be consistent– if you write, then disappear, so do your reads. Then, you too will have to write a post like this one, about your demise.

Stay tuned for the plugs below.

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GIPYKAPOW! Have you stopped by Tales From the Motherland Facebook page to spread some fairy dust? I’m grateful for each Like. Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (for real… well, he did. But he may have dropped me recently)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2019  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

 

 

 

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Crossing To Safety, Thirty Years Later

There is little I can add to any discussion regarding Wallace Stegner’s Crossing To Safety. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers ever, and Crossing to Safety is one of his most beloved books. Count me as a fan of 27+ years, and a renewed lover of this particular book, having just finished it–– more than 28 years after my first time reading it.

I read this book for a book group, in early 1990. When I first read this book, I was a young (new) mother starting out a life with friends who were dear to me, and new babies that we all shared in the care of. The early lives of Sid, Charity, Sally and Larry seemed highly relatable and poignant. While I understood the later part of the story in the lives of these characters, I was wrapped up in my own place and time and anything to come was speculative and fictional. Having just finished this book, after a lifetime of raising three children, living within a marriage that is now 32 years old, and having seen friendships grow and strengthen, as well as fizzle or implode, I read this book with a very different understanding, through entirely different lenses, and with greater emotional depth.

It’s that much more amazing to me now, that Wallace Stegner understood and wrote about so many complexities and contextual nuances of love, time, aging, parenting, grief, ego/hubris, insecurity, commitment… and the vast list of issues this novel explores. I found myself re-reading whole paragraphs over and over, to delve fully into the philosophical and varied dimensions of a life fully lived. The use of art, literature, and philosophy are used to explore this topic, as well as movingly written exchanges between characters to display many of these life phases. Stegner’s brilliance is on every page; his words sing of life. I highlighted so many lines for their sheer beauty, and ability to make me think and feel about my own life. As a writer, I am that much more stunned by the brilliance with which Stegner weaves his words.

The passage of time has only made this book that much more relevant and powerful for me. The literary tapestry was that much more fulfilling. When I first read it, in my first book group, the Depression did not seem that far from memory. Some references were outdated, but not so much as to be strange. With today’s focus on technology and social media, I could not help but wonder how Stegner would see it all now. I was also feeling that much more moved to see the things that time does not change: we all love; we all struggle to find ourselves (whether actively or passively); we grieve; we hurt others and we give shelter to them; we live and we die, and aside from that last one, we do it all over and over again. It is all here in this book.

As a young mother, I saw it all through a unique filter informed by my age and hopes for the future. Reading it now, as the grandmother to a 3 year old boy, watching my own babies––each “grown and flown––” follow the pull of their life journeys, Crossing to Safety moved me and spoke to me in a language that is richer and clearer than it ever could have been so long ago. In no way does that suggest that this is a book for later, but for reading… and then reading again. Crossing to Safety is a book for all time, and it I believe it only grows better with time.

Note: Wallace Stegner published 14 novels and numerous articles, short stories, and works of non-fiction. Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1971. The Spectator Bird won the National Book Award in 1976. Wallace Stegner died on April 13, 1993, a few days after a car accident. He is remembered with numerous academic scholarships and honors, and for his rich word and deep understanding of what makes us all human.

Have you read Crossing to Safety? Share your thoughts; we don’t have to agree… thought I might plug my ears to any criticism. No, really; I want to know. Leave a comment.

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GIPYKAPOW! Have you stopped by Tales From the Motherland Facebook page to spread some fairy dust? I’m grateful for each Like. Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2018  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Blink: A Mother’s Heart

 

THEN….                                    AND NOW!

In the past months I’ve written words and more words… in my head. I’ve written about the lengthening days and changing light. I’ve written about time with friends and laughs we’ve shared. I’ve written about travel, and aging, body image, depression, my grandson, (who I’m not allowed to write about), homelessness, and working with high school students. I’ve written countless posts. I’ve written them in my head, and there they’ve stayed… until my youngest child graduated from college last week.

Last week I re-posted a piece from four years ago when my son, Man Cub, graduated from high school. I meant every word when I wrote it, even though I knew it would all change when he finished college. Even as I watched him walk across the stage, the students around him young people I’d known forever. I kept thinking: I’ve seen these kids lose their teeth, learn to play soccer and soft ball and run around a track. I’ve watched them develop breasts and broad chests, and I’ve seen the look of first love on their faces. So many of the faces in that crowd felt dear to me, as I watched my own dear one get a diploma. I knew how fleeting the next four years would be… but here we are, and I am still blindsided.

I thought I got it, but when I arrived in Denver last week to get ready for graduation and spend time with my boy, I found myself taken aback by the strange sense that I had only just arrived to drop him off. There were his same roommates; there was the beautiful campus and the scurrying about to get papers signed and things done. There was the same coffee shop, and the food places we ate at. It all looked the same, though I could see the subtle changes on my son’s face. He had grown up, while time whizzed by for me. As my children have grown, my life has been one flash after another–– precious moments dissolving into a perpetual blur of time.

As mothers we are swept up in the crosshairs of time from the moment our children are born. In the hours and days after their birth, we are cocooned in their sweet newness and the enormous love we feel. It feels like they will always fit in the crook of our arms and smell like our wombs. Yet in a blink, they are turning over, crawling and then walking. As they enter elementary school, we are pulled into a cycle of award ceremonies, playmates and bullies, birthday parties, carpools, sports and dance and hobbies and moments that build upon each other. It can be dizzying. By the time they get to middle school, we begin to see the headlights that will keep us partly blinded for several years to come.

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TOO MANY BLINKS TO COUNT… ALL PRECIOUS

Our babies begin to run toward those lights, with changing bodies, sassy attitudes, and a desire to stomp down their own paths. The sweet new smell we thought we’d never forget, is replaced by smelly socks, dirty gym clothes, and the inkling of adulthood. The inevitable moment when they don’t want us to honk the horn and wave, or call out I love you. The moment when they flip us off with a look. If we’re lucky, they choose wisely and we can rest a little easier at night. But even the babes who choose wisely and let us sleep, run along a path that takes them away from us, and many of us spend wakeful hours trying to come to terms with the passing of time, and the trajectory of where we will land. The crosshairs of time hold us all, and time moves on with each blink.

The babies we nurse and clean and hold, and watch over through fevers and colic, coos and smiles, grow up and follow their own paths. The tighter we hold them, the further they are likely to run. The looser we hold, the more they may stumble. Finding the right balance between the two is exhausting, but it’s what every parent does, from the moment they become parents. We all want the best for our children, and hope to see them race along their own path, even as we want to hold them close.

Arriving for graduation last week, I saw my son’s excitement, his wide eyes and chiseled face, and another blip of time hit me between the eyes. My youngest, our “baby,” has spent four years getting a duel college degree, and letting his siblings and parents know that time has marked him as well. His dad and I felt so proud to see him graduating from the University of Denver with a duel major, excellent grades, wonderful friends, and a joie de vivre that inspires me all the time. I so admire (in the words of his incredible DU advisor) his “compassion, curiosity and presence.” Ready or not Mom, he has started along his own path and all we can do is watch him go, wish him blessings along the way, and provide the net that we began weaving the day we first held him. My faith in his choices, my belief in his strength of character and mind, comes with a net that will be there for the rest of my life.

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Arriving in Denver, seeing the world he lives in now, the passing of time and the years ahead held me like a deer in the headlights I first saw so long ago. I was reminded that his father and I will always provide a net, but he is leaping off his own cliffs now. There will be no more spring breaks, courses to choose, or things that require our signature. My baby went up to get another diploma, a token of his hard work and study, as his sister and brother did before him. As his father and I did a blip ago. This time I knew it was for real. This marks a whole new phase of our lives together. Now he begins to really move away from us.

All weekend the passage of time and the role that parenthood has played in my life was constantly before me, a reminder that my role in his life becomes more and more symbolic with each year, as has been true with his older siblings.  While once I was the person he came to with every coo and smile, every ache or pain, with every playmate and bully, and every major or small decision, now he fills me in on those decisions after he’s made them himself. My opinions still matter to him, but not the way they did when he was small. Just as it should be. Occasionally, he still brings me the choices and asks me what I think, but he’s walking his own path now, just as I continue on mine.

A piece of my heart will always be wherever my children are. Even as they become adults, march along their own paths, and perhaps have children their own, it’s the rare day when I don’t think about each of them. I can remember without pausing what each of them looked like as babies in my arms. I remember the sound of their voices when they were small (though that is fading), and the days we spent together as the hours and days and years passed, and they grew up and away. With each symbolic tick of the clock–– be they elementary school plays, middle school dances, high school and college graduations, marriages, births, jobs, successes and failures–– words have filled my head and asked to be written. While I’ll miss this time in our lives, when at least one of our children is still in school and we play an active role in his life, it’s exciting to look forward to the adventures ahead for Man Cub, and know that my net is strong and wide. Time marches on, but my net will always be wherever my children are.

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These boots will always sit by the door, and can never be filled by anyone other than my kids…

Are your kids graduating from college? Is time rushing by, or are you enjoying each moment. Share your thoughts in the comment. I read every one, and respond. It makes my day! 

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GIPYKAPOW! Have you stopped by Tales From the Motherland Facebook page to spread some fairy dust? I’m grateful for each Like. Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2018  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

 

 

 

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Reclaiming My Dad, On Father’s Day

Many of you read this when I first posted it (thanks for that!). I’m sharing it again for Father’s Day. I miss my Dad still, all the time, but on Father’s Day it’s hard not to wonder what he would be like today. I know he would love my children, and his only great-grand child. I believe he would be proud of me. I want to think we would be close. But it’s easy to fill in the blanks with the things I want to believe. On Father’s Day I know this: I’m grateful he loved me, and that love stayed with me. It has sustained me. Happy Father’s Day Dad, I love you!

TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND

Also Featured on Huffington Post, read it here.

Dad, six months before he died Dad, six months before he died

When life throws you a 100 mph curve ball, that hits you in face… and then another, and another, there are lots of things you can do; if you’re a child, set on survival, you block it out, and move on.

My father was killed in a car accident when I was ten– 42 years ago, June 9th. I’ve said those first 12 words countless times in my life. It’s been a defining detail of my entire life, and something I wrestled with in endless scenarios in my head, since the morning we heard– on a cruel sunny day. I remember the tiniest details with Technicolor precision. And yet, I forgot some of the most important parts… until two months ago.

Life threw another curve ball ten weeks ago that brought all those…

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