Archive | Typical Tuesday

Typical Tuesday with Laura Foley

I wake or, more preciously, am awoken, before 6 a.m. by our dogs, who insist it’s morning, in spite of still-dark skies. After a quick walk, I feed the beloved beasts— two German Shepherds,  Arlo and Alys; one yellow Labrador, Chloe. I prepare peppermint tea, return to bed with a cup for my partner and one for me.

But let me back up for a minute. For twenty years I was happily married to a man. After my husband died, I was busy raising our three children through their teen years; I also discovered I was attracted to women. Those years included many soul-searching, silent retreats, Zen ordination, Chaplaincy training,  Jungian analysis, Karate (I made it to second level Brown Belt) and Yoga (trained as an instructor).

And I discovered poetry.

Before that, I had been an academic, with degrees in English Lit. from Columbia University. I had read a lot, and studied a lot, but I had never written anything creative. At 45, as my husband was dying, I started writing. Today, 15 years later, I have six poetry books published, two more in progress.

On this Tuesday, I return to bed with two cups of tea, one for my partner, Clara, whom I have lived with for four and a half years.

After another snooze of the alarm, I get up at 7:15. The sky is brighter now, sun beginning to light the yard around our house. I jump in the shower, drive from our house in Pomfret Vermont to my favorite yoga class in Norwich. The teacher’s approach is Tantric, which fits nicely with Zen: a body-centered awareness, including explorations of how emotions manifest, how to work with them. Yoga class is a spiritual experience for me, a reminder of the ever-present, deeper stream beneath the busy-ness of a day.

After yoga, it’s off to a local coffee shop for oatmeal and a cappuccino. I make a nest of poetry books, my laptop, and spend some time reading poems on Writer’s Almanac, Poetry Breakfast, Autumn Sky, Poetry Foundation. Today I also watch a You Tube video interview with Sonia Sanchez, a poet who speaks about being in China, recites a haiku about the International Date Line. This triggers a memory for me. I grab my notebook, start to write about my father’s WWII experience (he was in China).  This is a subject I have tried to wrestle with before, how he always knew war would start on a Sunday, and it did, but it was Monday in China, because of the date line. Today the idea returns in full force, and I’m off, into the creative process.

After about twelve drafts, I feel the poem is ready to share with my online women’s group.  I have been in the habit of sharing rough drafts with them for many years; often receiving encouraging responses. They are my family, and I’m sharing work hot off the press.

By now it’s time for lunch,  soup and salad.  I spend the afternoon editing older poems, sending finished poems out to competitions and journals, preparing for the writing workshop I will lead tomorrow, in the local hospital, for those affected by serious illnesses.

At 5:00 I return home, over the river and through the trees, to our house far away, up on a hill in the woods of Vermont. My partner is preparing a delicious dinner of spaghetti squash with her own tomato sauce. Clara, originally from Spain, is a foodie, one of those fabulous, rare beings who loves to cook.

After her full day at the Law School, where she’s a professor, she unwinds by preparing me my favorite meals. As she stirs and chops, I carry in wood, prepare a fire in the fireplace, take the dogs out for a romp around the yard. We eat dinner, share stories about our day, sit on the couch with a cup of tea, some dark chocolate and a cookie. We watch Trollope’s Doctor Thorne on Netflix.

At ten o’clock, I take the dogs out one last time. I notice the brightness of the stars on this new moon night; Orion, reaching across the sky.

About the Author: Laura Foley

Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of six collections. She won the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor; and the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: WTF, Night Ringing, The Glass Tree and Joy Street. The Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared on The Writer’s Almanac, in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.

A certified Yoga Instructor and creative arts facilitator in hospitals, she is the mother of three grown children, grandmother to two granddaughters. She and her partner Clara Gimenez live among the hills of Vermont with their three big dogs.

Follow her on GoodReads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Spaghetti Tuesday by Julie M. Terrill

It must be 6:30 am. My eyes are still closed but I can feel her looking at me.

I know that when I open them Bee’s nose will be millimeters from mine and her chocolate brown eyes will be watching me intently, tail wagging happily. In silence I meet her gaze and smile. She is a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and even with my bedframe on risers we are nose to nose. She reminds me of the lion statues that stand sentinel at the doors of The Chicago Art Institute. She remains still until I say in a barely audible whisper, “you are invited.”

With a bound she joins me for our routine belly rub in silence. It is not that I am grouchy. I just don’t like to talk for a while. My family knows that a smile and a wave is the extent of my communication for the first few minutes of my morning. My mom says this has always been the case.

Bee and I enjoy our quiet snuggle and then I hear it… Rain! I love the rain and don’t want to waste a moment of it. I rush out the back door and dance barefoot in the grass. My flamingo-print pajamas are soaked and I sing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Bee watches and waits on the dry porch.

Provided there is no lightning, it is a pretty safe bet that if it is raining I am outside dancing.

Back inside I heat some water and go dry off. I steep my favorite tea, purchased during a recent trip to Ireland, and make a mental note to order more soon. I am enjoying my Irish Breakfast Tea in the dragonfly mug I received from my friend McGillicuddy. With a nod, I raise my mug to her and send a quick text telling her so.

The rain falls harder and the wind picks up.

After tea, a bagel and some blueberries it is time to get down to the business of Spaghetti Tuesday.

Not long ago I was a photographer and writer paralyzed with fear, unable to muster the courage needed to hit the send button on the growing number of email queries and pitches that were instead relegated to my draft folder. I had quite a collection of essays, photographs and stories that waited unseen.

I was unaware that gathering the basic tools and materials needed to build my dream of a creative life was not enough. I did not yet possess the skills to utilize those tools. Fear of ridicule, rejection and dismissal reinforced my state of inertia. I desperately needed to change and was referred to writer and business coach Christine Mason Miller. Christine re-framed the process for me.

You know how some people throw a piece of spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks and is ready? Christine told me to throw my creative spaghetti out into the universe and see what sticks. Undercooked spaghetti is not a personal rejection; it simply needs a little more time.

Brilliant! Spaghetti Tuesdays are now a part of my weekly schedule.

Today’s spaghetti-throwing menu features half a dozen photo submissions to the stock agency, two article pitches and two applications for Artist In Residency programs. I update my Curriculum Vitae, compose both Artist’s Statements, Project Proposals and upload my portfolio. One of the AIR programs is in Europe and it is likely that I will not hear from them, but that’s okay. It’s just spaghetti.

I laugh as I remember the photo I sent to Christine of the words “Throw Spaghetti” written in purplish lipstick on my shower wall.

The rain stops and dark clouds hang low, heavy with the promise that this lull will not last long. I grab my sneakers, Bee’s leash and harness and we head out the door. Bee, as always, is incredibly curious and I indulge her. We slow to check out every puddle and I rescue each wayward snail lured onto the pavement by the storm. My house is in sight again when the raindrops resume and I, of course, dance. Bee is far less amused and picks up her pace now eager to return home.

We dry off and I wash up before I head to the kitchen to begin chopping fragrant herbs and colorful vegetables. Red roasted peppers, purple onions, deep orange carrots, golden corn kernels and bright plum tomatoes paint a colorful swirling palette in my stock pot. While the soup gently simmers and the glass lid clouds with condensation I work in my office space that sits adjacent to the kitchen. On one desk sits the gourd I have been working on for three weeks. Already etched with the wood burner, carved by hand and lightly sanded, today it is ready to begin staining. Slowly and meticulously I daub the tan stain over the uncarved portion of the gourd’s hard shell until my family returns home. I ladle supper into colorful soup mugs that were a Christmas gift.

I am pleased by the anachronism as I reach for the antique silver soup spoons that I love to use, chuckling at how my kids won’t use them because they were purchased at an antique store and were “used.”

It has been a good day, rainy days and Spaghetti Tuesdays usually are.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

Typical Tuesday with Theresa Reed

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I never sleep in. I’m up and at ‘em before my husband even begins to stir.  The quiet time in the morning is essential for me. I use this time to get my brain – and day – in order.

I rarely need an alarm because I’ve trained myself to wake up around 6AM.  Once my eyes are open, the day is started.

My day begins with brushing my teeth. I am a compulsive tooth brusher and like to brush ‘em throughout the day. I like the minty-fresh breath thing.  Next up, a big glass of water. Water is important because we become dehydrated in the night.  A fresh glass gets everything in my system refreshed.

Now it’s time for meditation and movement.  I need to move my body in order to get the blood pumping. That might be with weights, yoga, or with energy work.  Whatever I can get in.  A little meditation stills  my mind, which preps me for starting my work.

Every morning, I post a tarot “Card for the Day” post on social media.  Once that’s done, I check my emails and put out any fires there.  Then, I sneak in a little writing. It might be my blog post for the day or the new book I’m working on.  Or maybe something else.  Morning is my favorite time to write because I know I won’t be disturbed.

After a bit, it’s time to get to these cats.  They are bugging me by now.  I feed them and then grab a bite to eat.  I’m not a big breakfast person so it’s usually a bowl of organic oatmeal, Greek yogurt with berries, or a bagel.  Copious amounts of green tea follow.  I’m not a coffee person at all. The only way I can do coffee is in a Frappacino – which, as my son so sagely noted, isn’t really coffee – it’s dessert!

I take my breakfast at my desk and then write some more. If it’s a blogging day, I’ll post that morning and put links on social media. Otherwise, it may be some other project I’m jamming away on.

Then, it’s time to hit the showers!  I love a blistering hot shower.  Like, mega-steaming to the point where my skin is red when I’m done. I know it’s probably bad for my skin but it makes me feel purged and alive!

Once I’m outta there, I love to slather my skin with body lotions and potions before getting dressed and getting my face on for the day. It takes me about five minutes to put on my makeup most days. I always say: if it takes you more than ten minutes to put on your face, you’re wearing too much.  Most days, it’s just a little tinted moisturizer, a swipe of eyeshadow and my signature black eyeliner with a little gloss. I don’t even bother with blush or mascara.  I don’t have time to bother.

I will do a check in with social media and emails – then it’s time to run errands with my husband, who is by now awake but bleary-eyed.  He’s a night person so I have to nag him awake.

Our mornings together are my favorite. We get in a walk and discuss whatever needs discussing.  It might be talking about our day, the latest news, or some project we’re working on.  We’re both workaholics so you can guess that most of our conversations center around that.  Post office, banking, Starbucks, and groceries are next – usually in that order.  I buy fresh groceries almost every day because I cook every night.  It’s my way of winding down plus fresh food is important to me.

Once we’re back home, it’s time to begin client work.

That starts off with email readings.  I used to do a lot of them but they are extremely time consuming so I’ve been limiting myself to a few a day – and no weekends.  I spend about two hours doing these – no more.  Remember, I’ve already been writing for most of the morning.  A few hours of email readings on top of all that and my arthritis is kicking in!  Gotta save those paws so they must be used very mindfully.

Next up, it’s time for readings.  Meaning, phone sessions with clients.  I make sure to have time between each reading to grab tea and get off my chair.  I NEED to move as much as  possible because this is sedentary work and I’m a believer that the chair is the devil.  LOL I find excuses to keep on moving as much as I can. In fact, the tea maker is on the third floor which means I have to take the stairs to refill my mug.  Believe me, I get in plenty of stairs every day.

My office closes promptly at 7PM on Tuesdays but then I’m hitting the computer for #TarotRap, my weekly Twitter chat about tarot.  I’ve only been doing this a few months but it’s a great way to connect with fellow tarot fanatics and talk about all things tarot!  I’ve been having so much fun – and the best part: I’ve even been learning a few new things.  You CAN teach an old tarot dog new tricks!  We’ve got some amazing people showing up every week – both newbies and old pros.  I am not sure how long I will be doing this but for now, it’s been great fun.

Once #TarotRap is finished, it is time to cook a meal, grab a glass of wine and relax with my husband and the cats.  We’ve been watching InkMaster on Tuesdays but often, it’s more likely just quiet time and reading books, side by side, with one of the cats jammed in between us.

I am usually in bed no later than 11PM.  As you can probably guess, when my head hits the pillow, I’m out like a light.

My days are long and challenging but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my work and my life.  It’s engineered to suit my workaholic nature and introvert tendencies.

Blessings,

Theresa

About the Author: Theresa Reed

theresareedTheresa Reed (aka “The Tarot Lady”) has been a full-time Tarot card reader for close to 30 years. She is the author of The Tarot Coloring Book (release date: Nov 1, 2016), an illustrated tour through the world of Tarot with coloring sheets for every card in the deck.

In addition to doing private Tarot readings, teaching Tarot classes, and speaking at Tarot conferences, Theresa also runs a popular website—TheTarotLady.com—where she dishes out advice, inspiration and tips for Tarot lovers of all experience levels.

Follow Theresa on Twitter and Instagram for her daily “Six Second Tarot Reading”—plus photos of her extremely handsome cats, TaoZen and Monkey.

Typical Tuesday with Courtney Weber

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We let the cats sleep with us last night. This morning, I’m reminded of why this is a terrible idea. Before I could hit snooze on my phone’s alarm, one cat whaps it to the floor. The other one cries like she’s starved for weeks. Get up, Primate.  I herd the little monsters into the kitchen and feed them before they wake my husband. I can sleepily slog through my day and no one will get hurt. But my husband is a nurse and if he slogs, people will get hurt.

While the cats are eating and finally quiet, I sip my morning glass of water because I’m a sad person who can no longer handle caffeine and just isn’t wild about herbal teas. I close my eyes and pretend the water tastes and smells and behaves like coffee. It doesn’t. But I’ll survive.

It’s time to write.

I start with a free-write, in a journal. I’ve kept journals since I was six years old. Almost thirty years later, there are boxes of my old journals clogging the closet of our spare bedroom and my parents’ attic. The flow of cursive on the unlined (always unlined, for me) pages is comforting. There are no deadlines with a journal. No expectations of voice, style. The only audience is Future Me.

Today, I journal about stairs and cats. I live in New York City. New York City is made of stairs. Five flights down when I want to leave the building. Two flights up for the subway. Two flights down for work. Stairs get old. I wish there weren’t so many. I also wish the cats loved each other. They’re fighting in the hall as I write this.  

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Even in my journal time, sometimes the “IShould” voices creep in. IShould write about my feelings. IShould write about current events. IShould document everything thing I do and how I do it. I saw a journal on display at the Ellis Island Museum. That could be me someday. If I write a better journal, maybe it will be. But chances are good that Future Me will be the sole reader of the journals. Current Me prefers Past Me’s entries about things like stairs and cats more than Past Me’s feelings and then-current events. I suspect Future Me will feel the same. Back to stairs and cats.

Two journal pages–that’s the warm-up. Then, I dig into my novel, which has been sorely neglected these past few weeks. I’m working on an official second draft. I think about the characters’ motivations, sometimes writing a smaller character’s entire subplot by hand in the notebook I keep by the laptop. Much of that will never get into the main novel, but it helps me all the same.

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Maybe this novel will be SUCH a success that I can publish this side stuff as appendices! Maybe they’ll both get movie deals!!!

As dawn creeps in, I write and edit, the work punctuated by breaks to pluck my eyebrows, get more water, reorganize the cookbooks. If I’m really blocked, I’ll start baking. My writing “process” almost never involves merely sitting and hammering away at the keyboard like an old-timey secretary. The words often come when I step away and do something else. This morning, fortunately, I don’t have to bake anything to get there. I dig into my characters, shaping them and loving them.

Husband gets up and scrolls the news while he eats breakfast. We are the modern couple, both staring into our laptop screens as our morning ritual. As he leaves for work, I remind him that I won’t be home when he gets in this evening.

It’s 7:30 and it’s time to get ready for work. I am reasonably satisfied with the writing, but then I breathe through a moment in which I wonder if I’m wasting my time on the novel. Should I should be writing another metaphysical piece? Should I turn this into a three-part series which is more likely to get a book deal and a movie? I remind myself that I didn’t know if my first two books would ever see life outside of my hard drive and I kept going, anyway. I imagine Future Me telling me just to keep at it. I imagine her finally writing for a living, in a big house in the country, paid for in cash by generous royalties.

It could happen. Anything is possible.

I dress and have breakfast, with bad news on the television for company.

Just before lunch, I steal two chocolates from my co-worker’s stash. She said it was okay last time. I wonder if I should log them in my food log. My nutritionist will probably say I should have stopped at one. But they’re small, so I’ll log both as one. It’s better than logging nothing.

On a work break, I send out an email to my Tarot students, reminding them about class tonight. No one responds. I courtneyweber_tarotforonetry not to take it personally. While I work, ideas for the novel brew. I email myself notes and if I get really crazy, open a Google Doc and write a new scene. Writing seems to be a balance between diligent and work and looking the other way to give story a chance to sneak up on you.

After lunch, I steal two more chocolates but they’re also small, so I can log them as one as well.

I run into that co-worker and confess both chocolate raids. She says it’s fine. She was trying to get rid of them, anyway and suggests I take more. I hold back. Does that make me disciplined? Probably not. But I wish I got credit in the food journal for turning down chocolate.

I arrive at the yoga studio, where I will be teaching the Tarot class. Only two people attend, but that’s fine. Sometimes smaller classes are the most fulfilling. One student said she bought my Tarot book which makes me happy. I ask her if she’d be willing to write an Amazon review–if she liked the book, that is. The studio manager sets out a container of chocolate-covered cashews and I nearly faint. I love those things so much.

I privately draft an apology to the nutritionist and help myself to the delicious treat. I make a mental note to plan a better food day tomorrow.

The three of us pour over our Tarot cards. I help them dig for deeper meanings of what they see. We keep our voices low as a yoga class is going on. Inside the studio room, someone’s Ujjayi breathing sounds like Darth Vader.

I pull three cards to demonstrate a new spread. My question is, “How do I best approach my novel?” I pull three Sword cards, all upside-down. These three Sword cards typically reflect control. In Reverse, I interpret them as “Surrender.”

Surrender to the story. Let it happen on its own terms. It will eventually blossom.

When I get home, Husband is watching Star Trek. I take a peek at what I wrote this morning on the novel. It’s not too bad. It might even be good. But I really have no idea. We cuddle for a while on the couch and then I play a little guitar as I haven’t practiced much this week. We turn in early as we both have another early morning waiting for us.

Someday, writing will be my fulltime job. Until then, I’m thankful for the cranky cats, morning dilly-dallying, Tarot and chocolate. Somehow, those are the little white lines on the writing freeway.

About the Author: Courtney Weber

courtneyweber_bioCourtney Weber is a Priestess, author, Tarot advisor, and activist. She is the author of the newly released Tarot for One: The Art of Reading for Yourself and Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess (Both through Weiser Books). She produced and designed “Tarot of the Boroughs,” a contemporary photographic Tarot deck set in New York City. She blogs at Huffington Post and on her website: www.thecocowitch.com. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and cats.

Typical Tuesday with A.R. Hadley

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I wake up and make my way to the kitchen and dip my finger into a jar of peanut butter.

No. Wait.

That’s what the sexy character does in the book I’m currently reading on a Tuesday morning before the sun and my kids wake up.

Jesse dunks a finger into the Sun-Pat and licks. It may not sound sexy, but trust me — it is.

The story is part of a trilogy (I’m in book three), and I read him before I exit my bed, when I go to bed at night, and sometimes (shh… don’t tell) I sneak away throughout the day, hoping to find fifteen minutes of quiet space away from other humans, tiny humans, so that I may continue to indulge in my own jar of peanut butter — books.

They are yummy.

I am lucky.

Every day is like Tuesday.

I spend each day with books, a notepad, my husband and my two kids.

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Tuesday could be filled with a homeschool group game of friendly kickball or doctor appointments or walking by the river, and they are always filled with math problems and hugs, breakfast and pencil sharpeners.

In the late afternoon I fold five baskets of wrinkled laundry as Turner Classic Movies blares a black and white. I laugh at Spencer Tracy.

His presence looms large, forcing me to acknowledge things I have numbed or forgotten.

It’s on the screen — life — and it’s in the spaces between the dialogue. It’s on the faces and foreheads and lips of the actors. It’s in Tracy’s eyes and frown lines.

It cannot be ignored.

Maybe I’ll cook an actual meat and potato dinner or I’ll buy tacos, and at bed time there will be a struggle and a snuggle.

Mom and dad win. Eventually.

The kids are in bed. I’m writing this essay. My eyes are heavy. I tap away on my iPhone. I wonder if anyone can relate to my words or thoughts, the endless spin cycle my brain functions on. I wonder who might be out there, in the universe, listening to my silent key pounding.

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My husband snores.

I can’t shut off my working mind. I’ll go to sleep soon. Maybe I’ll read about my peanut butter dipping Lord or I’ll dream up my own fictional character. It works, you know — dreaming. It leads to all kinds of possibilities and rainbows and friends and amazing, amazing things.

About the Author: A.R. Hadley

ARHadleyBioA.R. Hadley writes imperfectly perfect sentences by the light of her iPhone.
She loves her husband.
Chocolate.
Her children.
And Cary Grant.
She annoys those darling little children by quoting lines from Back to the Future, but despite her knowledge of eighties and nineties pop culture, she was actually meant to live alongside the lost generation after the Great War and write a mediocre novel while drinking absinthe with Hemingway. Instead, find her sipping sweet tea with extra lemons on her porch as she weaves fictional tales of love and angst amid reality.

A creative writer since elementary school, A.R. all but gave it up after her children were born, devoting herself to the lovely little creatures, forgetting the pleasure and happiness she derived from being imaginative.
No more.
She rediscovered her passion in 2014 and has not stopped since — writing essays, poetry, and fiction. She is currently working on completing several novels as part of a romantic trilogy.

Day or night, words float around inside her mind. She hears dialogue when she awakens from sleep. She is the one who has been awakened. Writing is her oxygen. Cary Grant fans the flames.

Typical Tuesday with Little Fox Tarot

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At around 5am, my Joe kisses me on the head on his way to work. His love is real, as I’m certain I’m snoring when he does this. Generally, I wake up at 6:04am. I’ve got an alarm set with the wake up song “Get By” by Talib Kweli. If you haven’t heard this song – it starts with a sample of Nina Simone from “Sinnerman”. Soon the hook starts,

“This morning, I woke up
Feeling brand new, I jumped up
Feeling my highs and my lows
In my soul and my goals
Just to stop smoking and stop drinking
I’ve been thinking, I’ve got my reasons
Just to get by, just to get by, just to get by, just to get by….”

You can’t listen to this song and not want to do something big.

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I shift into care mode. I take the dogs (Libby and Lucy) outside, and sit with them for a few minutes, just breathing in and out. I quit smoking a year ago, and this is an important part of my Not Smoking. I just breathe. I feed the cats (Daisy, Daisy Adair and Minerva Jane McGonagall Cynova). I hand feed our tortoise, Phil – that’s my meditation time. We’ve spoiled this tortoise to the point that he won’t eat his whole breakfast unless he’s hand fed. If it’s a Kid day (shared custody), I wake up my sweethearts and get them started on their day. If it’s not a Kid Day, I take a shower and putter around for a bit.

img_3111I choose my card of the day.

I’ve been reading tarot cards since 1989, and this is the first year I’ve ever done readings for myself – ever. Weird, yes. But there it is. I got this great journal from Darla Antoine – The Divina Dream Journal for Magical Babes. Its intent is to help you remember your dream, but it also has a section for Daily Divination. I started pulling a card every morning and writing about it.

It’s amazing how calming it is to take ten minutes to figure out what the day could look like. I’ve found that usually I get an important head’s up about how the day is going to unfold. I got the Three of Swords, which is about heartbreak and pain, but wrote that it didn’t feel like I was the target.  A few hours later, my son called to tell me he hurt his ankle and could I please come home? I pulled the Lovers card, and the day turned into a spontaneous, hours long date with my sweetheart.

There is a great deal of validation in seeing even the smallest predictions come true. It adds an element of control to what might otherwise feel like a completely random day.

I drop the kids off at school or head to work. I have a forty minute commute, so I listen to audio books and enjoy my alone time. I usually knock out two or three books a month and it helps me avoid the stabby-inducing road rage.  I get to work around 8am and head home at 5, listening to my book the whole way. I like my job. It’s challenging and interesting and I like my team, so it’s really a blessing to get all three things in one place.

It’s a difficult thing to balance writing and reading cards and working a full-time muggle job.

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I wrote most of my first book last year during lunch breaks and when I had insomnia late at night. I’m editing it now, and I have to schedule time to make writing happen.

I get home from work to find that my partner Joe has picked up the kids from school, cooked dinner, and has taken care of the animals. He’s usually got laundry going, too. I hang out with my family until 8:30 when the kids go to sleep, and then I start doing readings or writing.

kitchen-table-tarot-coverI remind myself that writing is a privilege, not a right, and that for me? I can’t not write. I can’t not read tarot cards.

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was six years old. I told my best friend 20 years ago that my dream in life was to have a book in the Library of Congress.

In April 2017, Kitchen Table Tarot will be published and that bucket list item is checked! It took me four years to complete this book, and the only reason it’s finished is because I decided I wouldn’t push off my dream anymore.

I read or write until 10:30 or so, and then I go to sleep, and am up the next day. I’m tired a lot, and I don’t have as much time to write or work with my cards as I’d like, but I’m still getting things done.

I have a number in my head of how many years it will take me to become a full time author and tarot reader. It’s very clear, and I know that the more I work now, the more likely that goal will become a reality.

About the Author: Melissa Cynova

Melissa CynovaMelissaC_Bio is owner of Little Fox Tarot, and has been reading tarot cards and teaching classes since 1989. She can be found in the St. Louis area, and is available for personal readings, parties and beginner and advanced tarot classes. You can Look for her first book, Kitchen Table Tarot, from Llewellyn Publishing in January 2017.

Melissa lives in St. Louis with her kiddos, her partner, Joe, and two cats, two dogs and her tortoise, Phil.

She is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Go ahead and schedule a reading – she already knows you want one.

Typical Tuesday: How We Live Our Days

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Tuesday, seven o’clock. I wake to sunshine flooding the corners of my bedroom, laying stripes of warmth across the bed. What a relief after days of chill rain and gray skies. I’ve slept longer than usual, but I’m not unhappy about it because finally my body feels rested. I extricate myself from the bed, wiggle around two sleeping dogs and a husband just beginning to stir, and stretch my back for a moment before tackling the stairs to the first floor kitchen. While coffee brews, I empty the dishwasher; when it’s done, I carry two cups of steaming coffee upstairs on a small bamboo tray, just as I’ve done everyday for the past four years we’ve lived in this house.

typical tuesday cup and journalAn hour later – with coffee, reading, and journal writing under my belt – I’m ready for the day. During breakfast (vanilla yogurt with sliced banana and coconut granola) I check in on social media, trying to limit my time and avoid getting sucked down the many rabbit holes of posts, links, and comments.

I am only moderately successful.

Finally, tearing myself away from the interesting world of internet life, I get properly dressed and walk the dogs for about 30 minutes. I call it walking, but it’s more of an amble, with ridiculous amounts of time for stopping and sniffing. I’m resigned to this. My dogs are old, and our morning constitutional is the highlight of their day.

This is the way I start every day. It’s not only typical, it’s ritualistic, as necessary for me to complete as a pilot’s checklist in the cockpit before takeoff.me and dogs typical tuesday

But the hours between 11 and 4 (after the dog walking and before dinner prep) loom large before me. It’s laughable to think that ten years ago a typical day was jam packed with office work, rehearsals, practicing at home, blog writing, book reading and reviewing, plus all the other details involved in homemaking, with scarcely a minute left over to do more than fall into bed exhausted at the end of it all.

During the past decade my daily life has changed drastically, been whittled away by choice and circumstance. Responsibilities have slipped away one by one, almost without my notice. I resigned from the office job I held for 15 years. I have no choral groups to accompany. I don’t sing in the church choir or even attend church at all. When my mother died two months ago my years of eldercare came to an end.

I read, I write, I practice the piano and I play handbells once a week. I walk dogs. I keep house.

Lack of time was a central theme in my writing from 10 years ago. Now, time occasionally weighs heavily on my hands. Do I feel guilty about this? Sometimes.  It’s luxurious, my life – plenty of free time and the resources to do whatever I want with it. I’m certainly not bemoaning it – quite the opposite. I want to make sure I’m a good steward of this remarkable gift. So I worry and obsess a little in my morning journal writing about whether I’m doing all that I should be doing. I make mental lists for the day, lofty lists with goals and ambitions.

But most often I don’t complete them. I wander aimlessly around my house a lot. I gaze out the window.I sit on a bench under an umbrella of blossoming pear trees.

For years I was completely preoccupied with the Dailiness of Living. I’d organize my tasks, make to-do lists, formulate and prioritize in day planners and bullet journals. I’d tick off items one by one and move proudly on to the next.

trees typical tuesdayNow, in these hours between 11 and 4, I’m learning to simply BE. It’s a gift – this ability to wake up each morning and pick and choose what I’ll do with the day, like items off the menu in a Chinese restaurant. One day I’ll choose an hour of reading, lunch with a friend, writing time in the afternoon, some work in the garden. Another it might be a bike ride into town, a stop at the library, and some piano practice before dinner.

Tuesday, four o’clock. The dogs wake from their own afternoon napping. We go out, maybe amble around the block again if the weather’s nice. I come inside and put a CD in the player (yes, I still have a CD player) while pulling together the ingredients for dinner. I might sip a glass of wine while it cooks and read my book, or scroll through social media feeds again to find out what everyone’s been up to during their busy day. By 6:00 Jim is home from work. We eat, clean up the kitchen, walk the dogs (again!), and relax with a favorite TV show before I take a hot bath and go to bed with my book. Maybe I’ll get 20 minutes of reading before my eyes close in sleep.

Simple days, with easy responsibilities. When I’m tempted to chide myself for being less productive than I should be, I remember these words from a wise friend: “Be gentle with yourself. Rest. Be. Grieving is work enough.” I’m trusting that what seems like a fallow period is a time of renewal and rejuvenation for whatever comes next.

The great Annie Dillard writes this: “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.” I’m trying to live these days with gratitude and grace, mindful of the nourishment to be found in quiet, everyday moments and activities.

About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_rowan_bio_may2016Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking with the dogs or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Me Before Chickens, Dogs, Cats, Even My Husband: A Typical Day in this Writer’s Life by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

TypicalTuesday_RoutinesandRituals

It’s 5am – or 4:50am or 5:11am – and I’m awake. I’m mostly awake because this is the time I typically get up, but I’m also awake because Mosey, our basset hound, typically wakes at this moment and is sharing his joy with me by licking my toes.

I then feed Mosey and Meander, our other hound dog. By then, the coffee is almost done, and I’ve built a fire in these God's Whisper Farm sunriselate spring mornings. I’ve packed my husband’s lunch and washed the few eggs we gathered late last night.

By 5:30, I am settled into my grandfather’s tufted leather chair and have my mother’s Bible in hand. A chapter from there. A daily read about fasting that I consider intellectually but not physically. A few prayers jotted into a notebook. Then, I lean back with as many chapters of my book of the morning – at this moment, it’s Christie Purifoy’s Roots and Sky – as time and the chill in the air will allow. These are my quiet moments, my centering moments. The only words that I let precede my own for today.

Here in the cold days, I work from our dining room table. (I’m eager to return to my office in what was the summer kitchen of this 200-year-old farmhouse, but that will call for days of sun that warm the walls.) By 6am, I open my laptop and quickly shut down all the browser tabs I forgot to close last night. I slip open MS word and begin.

I tap words ahead into the rising dawn. I do my best not to change anything, trusting that I’ll see better what needs revision when I have plotted the full path of the book. I resist – mostly – the urge to open one of those browser tabs. I keep going until I reach 1,000 words, the magic number Shawn Smucker suggested to me years ago. When I am in rhythm, this takes less than 20 minutes.

For all intents and purposes then, the most important work of my day is done when I get those 1,000 words finished. That’s not to say what I do for the rest of the day – the edits for clients, the manuscript reviews, the notes to communities I organize and writers I love – is unimportant. But for my mental health, for my clarity of mind, for my ability to speak with integrity about the writing life, those 1,000 words are my bedrock.

I have to say there’s another component of this urgency I have to do my personal creative writing first; it has to do with my identity as a Southern, Christian woman. All three of those aspects of my societal upbringing have taught me – through model and intention – to put myself last, to always do what is most important for others before what I do for myself. And while the central underpinning of those teachings – the lessons about selflessness and the need to avoid selfishness are important – many Southern, Christian women, myself included, have come to believe that we are as always to subjugate our calling, our health, our own needs to the wants of others. So when I do my writing first, I am establishing my own personhood as fundamental to the rest of the work I do. I am important, and those 1,000 words help me remember that.

When my 1,000 words are done, I feed our chickens, goats, cats, and Great Pyrenees and then come in to sit with my husband before he leaves for work. Once his truck pulls out of the quarter-mile drive, I’m back to the laptop – writing email missives to clients and crafting newsletters. Then, I edit or listen to client manuscripts for a few hours before taking a lunch break.

This lunch break thing is new for me. I don’t have colleagues to break with, and I don’t have an hours-per-week expectation set from a boss. Therefore, I don’t have boundaries coming from outside myself, and if I’m not careful, I feel pressured to do more every day. Thus, I never stopped for lunch, powering through until my husband came home and the animals needed another round of food. This continual 10 hours of work – 6am-4pm – not only made me cranky and exhausted, but it also made me frenzied and unable to quit work when the day needed to wind down. My belief that it had to all be done now made my chest ache, and I always felt like time was scarce. Somehow, a lunch break has changed all that.

So I eat lunch and watch a TV show on the DVR – Supernatural is my show of choice at the moment. Nothing like some vampire hunting and some pop religious questioning to give the mind a break.
Then, I go back to work for three or four hours until that truck with my beloved rolls back down the lane.

Feed everyone.

Feed ourselves.

Then, by 6pm, we’re back to something else. My husband is usually in his shop working on a car. Some God's Whisper Farm duskevenings I have to work, but I’m making that need more and more rare these days. Instead, I read or listen to podcasts if my energy is still high. As spring comes on, I’ll have garden chores to tend in these hours when the sunshine stretches himself.

Some nights, I’m exhausted and just settle into my recliner – crochet nest nearby – to work on an afghan or stitch a hedgehog. On the days when I’m most tired –usually later in the week – I just watch TV, letting the stories get along without me just fine. (Since I’ve been a full-time editor and writer, I’ve found that I take great comfort – GREAT COMFORT – in the fact that movies and TV shows don’t need my help to get to a resolution. It’s a strange thing to find myself relieved that I don’t have to work out the story myself, and it’s a gift that lets my mind let go of sifting through word choices and point of view strategies. )

9pm means I’m in bed, blankets tucked up to my chin and a book at hand. I’m asleep by 9:30 unless that book is REALLY good . . . and sometime after, my husband and two hound dogs join me under the covers.

It’s not the life everyone would choose, but it’s mine, and it’s so, so good.

Incidentally, this essay is 1001 words. Got my word count in for today. ☺

About the Author: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

andibio1Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives on 15 blissful acres at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, 6 goats, 4 dogs, 4 cats, and 22 chickens. Her books include Steele Secrets, The Slaves Have Names, and Writing Day In and Day Out. You can connect with Andi at her website, andilit.com, or via Facebook and Twitter.

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