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Finding Home

“In a hundred years from now.”

Good morning from sunny, chilly Vermont. As early as I can remember, when something bothered me, my dad would say, “In a hundred years from now, no one will ever know the difference.” This answer would drive me crazy. I thought he was refusing to hear me. I thought he was dismissing my valid concerns. Now that I’m of “a certain age,” his comment has begun to make sense. In fact, I often conjure it up as a response to the situations in which I find myself as I go through my day.

Will I have time to blog this week? In a hundred years from now, no one will ever know the difference. Did I remember to pay the phone bill? In a hundred years from now, no one will ever know the difference. You get the idea–it’s the Rene Marcoux rendition of the Serenity Prayer. So many of the things I fret about aren’t really worth using up the time that’s been assigned to me in this world. So why not let go?

Well, I’ll tell you why. I’m genetically hard-wired to fuss. If I’m oceanside with my feet on the ground, the wires soften and shrivel up; it’s magic. If I’m at Lake Elmore sitting on my raggedy picnic quilt hanging out with my husband and the Barretts, the wires soften and my labored inner breathing eases. If I’m at Soft Landing sitting out on our bench with my face to the sun, the wires at least relax. If I’m in a rocking chair with the soft, sure weight of a sleeping baby or young child (or a little white dog), the wires actually sag.

Epigenetics. The tangle of genes and environment. Give me the right setting, and my high-strung genes relax. So to stay healthy and sane and capable, I keep tabs on where I put myself. Every one of my books includes a peaceful setting, with the ocean playing a role in each storyline. (Quill Point is no exception.) Growing up on a farm gave me autonomic every day grounding. Soft Landing provides some of that. The rest of what I need I create or travel for.

Today the sun is out so I’ll sit on the bench and take a walk with a friend. I’ll go to church and be still. Having no babies to hold, the dog’s on my lap. And if I start fretting about tomorrow, my dad’s voice will be there, saying: “Lisa–in a hundred years from now, no one will ever know the difference.”

What’s your take on epigenetics? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

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Real paper tickets.

Hello from cloudy, cold Vermont. Tuesday afternoon, if all goes well, I’ll land safely at San Antonio Airport and take a cab to the Riverwalk, where I’ll be staying for the better part of the week. I’m attending a distance learning conference for online librarians, the first real professional development I’ve had since I started at the college almost twelve years ago. When I began working at the library, I read all I could find about embedded librarianship, I talked with a few librarians who worked with online students, and then created my own distance learning program. I started with a pilot of four courses, and now I’m in 84 classes, posting lessons regarding information literacy, and answering both faculty and student reference questions. I continue to question my approach.  I always ask myself, “How can I do this better?” “How I reach more students?” How I can I foster deeper relationships with faculty?”

At this conference, I’ll be surrounded by peers. I can’t wait to absorb what they say, and I can’t wait to attend lots of workshops so I can learn new approaches to information literacy. The hotel looks stunning on the website, the Riverwalk lively and beautiful, and the weather promises to be in the seventies and eighties. I’ve borrowed Serena’s travel carryon and dug out my spring purse. I think I’m ready as can be, as long as I remember my tickets and passport.

I am nervous about going through security. Last time I flew was maybe twelve years ago, back when they still had real paper tickets. Now I have this print off from Expedia that says it’s a ticket, but where’s the stub? Where’s the part you keep in your pocket to slip into your journal as a reminder of where you went? Hmm. And I had to choose my own seats online. If I did that right, then I’ll have a window seat for each part of my flight. If not, I’m not quite sure what will happen. Do I go back home? All this “self-service” gives me the jitters.

Besides attending the conference, these are the things I’m looking forward to: stretching out on a pool chair and getting some sun. Finishing crossword puzzle number 46. Journaling. Seeing the Alamo. Sleeping on the plane, sleeping through the night, sleeping on the pool chair. And checking out all the shops on the Riverwalk to find that perfect souvenir to bring home to my family.

I return on Saturday evening, probably just in time to walk the dog and stack the dishwasher for the night. When I return to work on Sunday, I will sport a tan and a new perspective.  And I might let out a few yodels.

Have you ever been to the Riverwalk? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

As they pull away.

Hello from warm and sunny Vermont. I moved my bench outside this morning after I rescued the foyer from its layers of winter mittens, coats, and boots, and now I’m sitting in the full sun, lapping up the shine like a blooming daisy. I’m at peak happiness in this beautiful spring weather.

Tomorrow is Easter. I’ve been thinking a lot about faith these days, not only because I need it so much, and it helps me so much, but also because my girls are both searching their own path to God, and not necessarily to the God I’m familiar with, but to something else, something to them still unnamable.

When we baptized our children, I made a promise to raise them as Catholics. The question I’m wrestling with is when does raising stop? When is the promise fulfilled? Does it stop when they say, “Thank you for the foundation but I want something different.” Or when they even skip the thank you and say, “I’m outta here.”

As they grew up, I took the approach that my girls might not end up Catholic, but at least they’d have a strong foundation to bounce off from as they figured out their own beliefs. Both are bouncing, and as they pull away, I’m facing another parental letting go. I think I’ve kept my promise. But I never much examined or even imagined what life would look like for me after.

I tell you, I miss them near me in the church pew. I miss holding their hands, and having their heads rest against my shoulders during a long sermon. I’m grateful that I can sit with my sisters and mother for that special sense of family that comes from worshipping together.

I hope they land with God at their backs. I hope they they notice the miracles. I’ll pray that we all end up together in the same place after we die. And I’ll continue modeling my own journey and tussles with Christianity. But as they narrate their own exodus, I won’t stand in the way.

Check in next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In crisp, certain terms.

Good morning from sunny Vermont. Today my husband and daughter travel to Montpelier, our state capitol, to join the students’ march for gun control. I’d be there as well but for a prior medical commitment. My sign would read: ENOUGH!

There are few things in the world I see as black and white anymore; time and life have softened me into shades of gray. At the same time, there are injustices I see in crisp, certain terms: hunger, poverty, the destruction of our environment, corporate greed, and the misuse of firearms.

My cousins and brother-in-law hunt. My cousins are in law enforcement. As a pacifist, I don’t like that they carry any arms at all, but I respect them–mostly because they are thoughtful and careful with their pistols, rifles, and bows and arrows, and I love them. That’s as far as my gray stretches.

Today’s march will make a difference in only to empower the voices of our young ones. Not just for this issue, but for every other issue they face in and outside of their homes. Don’t you wish our generation would have never let it get this far?

II pray for the safety of the marchers in Vermont, DC, and across the country. I pray that one heart in particular will change course. I pray that our state legislature’s gun control bill passes without effort.

Pull the fingers away from the casual owners of assault weapons, and what will you hear? The soft beating of the hearts of our children. Let’s stand up and support their bravery.

Lisa

the girls 2016

When millet burns.

Good morning a day early from cold, snowy Vermont. For those of you who thought I dropped off the face of the earth last week, I didn’t. I was out of state and away from technology, so I gave myself a pass. To set the scene, Scout’s in my lap at the table, and there’s the sharp smell of burned millet. Tim’s pots and pans got away from him in the kitchen.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on self-care. You know how in a plane, the flight attendants always tell you to give yourself the oxygen first, and then your children? There’s no bone in my body or thought in my mind that would let me do such a thing. I could not take the oxygen first. Neither could my mom. Or her mom. Right down the ancestral line to the first Boudreau mother.

I get that I need to take care of myself. I’ve constructed an entire toolkit of self-care–meditation, time to myself, music, books, walks, nice soaps and lotions, tea. And I dip into that toolkit as much as I can. But if one of my girls is in need, it’s their mask I reach for. Always.

So where does that leave me? With a somewhat distorted view of parenting, I guess. The sense that I haven’t done it right. And I’m probably carrying more life weight on my shoulders than necessary. As a highly sensitive person, I raised two highly sensitive girls. I tried to model for them self-care; I really did. But this is what I wonder: When my girls have children, whose mask will they reach for?

When millet burns, it emits an acrid, permeating smell. But here at Soft Landing, our kitchen fan that wicked it away in short order. And that’s my queue to close. What would you do with the mask?

Check in next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

Fascination Mode

Good morning from cloudy, dreary Vermont. This is one of the things I learned at work for the week (alert: skip this paragraph if you are stomach sensitive). There’s a new medical research method out there. You take a dead mouse with a damaged brain and replace its fluids with alcohol. Then you add a kind of soap to it to dissolve any body fat. Then you fill its veins with a transparent fluid. The mouse shrivels up enough to fit under a microscope, and it is now transparent, so you can study the effects of its brain damage on the rest of the body. Apparently this method is a big deal in science, as the researchers hope it will lead to studying the effects of Alzheimer’s. I don’t know. The things we do to animals in the name of progress in science make my stomach curl. And yet, finding the cure for Alzheimer’s? That would be something.

I could write for hours about the things I learn every day as a reference librarian. I’m pretty much in “fascination mode” from the time I sit at my desk to the time I pack up my bag and leave. The subjects that pull me in tend to be science-based: biological psychology; biology, chemistry, animal behavior, herbal pharmacology. And here’s why:

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a pathologist in the worst way. My cousin Bobby gave me his college anatomy and physiology book to study when I was about ten. And at a teacher’s convention with my kindergarten teacher sister, I found six large posters of our human anatomy–the circulation system, the skeletal system, etc. That’s what hung on my walls when I finally got my own room at sixteen. My bed was literally surrounded by bodies.

I applied for and was accepted at McGill University’s pre-med program. But then I got nervous. What if I wasn’t good enough? I seemed to be really, really good in political science. Wasn’t that a safer and easier route? After a year of making wrong turns, I found myself at the University of Vermont. Still tempted by science, I took some science and advanced math classes “just to see.” Anatomy and Physiology was one of the hardest courses I ever took, and the Bs I got in the class elated me. I worked hard for those marks. But wouldn’t I have to work even harder all the time if I continued in science? Yes. And that scared me. Because I wasn’t confident enough to think I could make it. And back then there were no cheerleaders in regard to women and STEM. So I stopped. I became an English major, and minored in French, with a political science specialty. In regard to science, I folded. So now, decades later, I’m a science geek without credentials. And that’s okay. I’ve never had to hurt an animal in the name of medicine. And being a reference librarian and a writer? Well, that’s pretty cool also.

What did you want to be? And is that what you became? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Something to share.

Good morning from cloudy Vermont. I have something to share. Listen:

“Thank you for your patience while we reviewed your work. We received very positive feedback from our beta read department for QUILL POINT. I’m writing to you today to let you know of our intention to contract the work, for release in 2019.” 

Ta da! Isn’t that great news for the start of a weekend? Here I was, planning to roll out the book to you week by week so all that writing wouldn’t go to waste, and now I have the year to slog through the editing process and present it to you in a complete package. And, maybe what’s more important, I’ve got the year to tend to marketing all of my books. You all know how I let that go.

I want to celebrate. I want to toast to this beginning and this fourth milestone. But as I write, I’m laughing because I seem to be out of hurrahs lately (which explains, by the way, why I didn’t write last week). Oh well. I’ll think of something. Just know that right now I’m delighted. I thought Quill Point was good enough, but I wasn’t quite sure. Now I know.

Any ideas on how to celebrate contracting for a fourth book? A new succulent? A puppy for Scout? (Just kidding, girls.) Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

The Depths of Winter

Good morning from snowy Vermont. I’m on my second cup of tea and am just inside from shoveling out our little stoop and making a path to the cars. The path isn’t so much for us, but for Scout, who’s smaller than the height of snow.

Livia taught me something this morning. Turns out the author who wrote The Fault in our Stars, John Green, also is part of the Crash Course video series on YouTube. I see these popping up a lot in the materials our online instructors use. John and his brother Hank created this learning series about every topic under the sun. This week I watched several psychology and biology videos; my favorites are about the brain and its connection to the digestive system. Here’s the link to Crash Courses:

https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse

I got word on my book. Curiosity Quills is revising its author contracts. The submissions team won’t make any decisions on pending books until the new contracts are finished. It may be a while before I know about Quill Point. Timing-wise, that’s fine. I feel hollow though, like I’ve left my baby with an acquaintance and she hasn’t been returned. I think Quill Point is in good hands, but…

Outside of one medical appointment today, I’m free to be domestic. I’ve got a bunch of household chores to do, and I may watch some of the Olympics. We watched parts of the mens’ figure skating team competition. So many of the skaters fell, I wondered about the quality of the ice. And the bleachers were mostly empty. I guess in the spirit of cordiality, it’s better to have too many seats than not enough.

According to WordPress and Facebook statistics, my readers are dwindling at an alarming rate. Soon there’ll be just a few of you following me. I need to jazz things up. Perhaps my daughters will give me some pointers. Serena is doing a great job with my nephew’s book page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/undertheeagle/

I hope when the depths of winter pass, I’ll come charging out with new ideas and a new look. Where do you get your energy in the short but long month of February?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Plaques and Tangles.

Good morning everyone, from cold and dim Vermont. I have a calendar. I have post it notes and a stack of scrap paper at my disposal. I have 8 1/2 by 11 pads of fresh yellow-lined paper. But I’m still forgetting things. I think it’s next week. Then I think it’s last week. I get phone calls from doctors regarding appointments I’m ahead of or behind from. Really, it’s bothersome and embarrassing. Is there something wrong with my brain?

Some people swear by their smart phones. “Just put everything in your phone and then it will tell you what to do!” Or, “Put it all in your laptop!” Well that’s great for the 90 percent of the population that feels comfortable using technology. You know by now I’m in the ten percent. You know I prefer pen and paper over computers any day.

But where does that leave me? Besides feeling like plaques and tangles are silently stealing my brain. Those damn plaques and tangles. I hear about them all the time in the health science classes I’m embedded in as a research librarian. I imagine what my MRI looks like, and as I once again put the phone in the freezer, the image haunts me with its unwanted ponds and creeks. Of course I’ve never had an MRI. Because my doctor says I’m suffering from severe stress, not dementia. But still.

I remember when my very special uncle was getting radiation and chemo for a brain tumor. I’d meditate, mentally reducing the size of the tumor until it was gone. Maybe I should start visualizing my stress, mentally reducing it until it’s gone. But I’ll have to schedule it in, and remember I did so. Maybe I should put my calendar in the freezer.

The good news is that I remembered to blog this morning–on Saturday, not Sunday. (According to Facebook, I lose most of my readers if I blog on Sunday.) The other good news is that I don’t have any appointments to remember or forget today. I can tidy Soft Landing, and even go out on a little date with my husband in Burlington while my daughter attends a birthday party. Full disclosure? I thought there was a doctor’s appointment today but when I called to confirm, she said I was a week off. Heavens.

So now I’ll sit down with my husband, dig my calendar out of my large, black purse, and review each entry in an attempt to make it stick. And I’ll do something fun today, like browse Barnes & Noble and write interesting titles down so that I can request them later through the library.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve found your phone? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

 

 

 

In the Scottish Countryside with a Goat

Good morning from spring-like Vermont. This past week, Quill Point was “on the table for discussion.” I haven’t heard more than that, but I expect to know by Friday. Once when I submitted a piece for the magazine Mothering, I received a rejection with a note from the editor. She said her submissions team had argued long and hard over my work, and ultimately the argument itself led to its denial. I hope accepting my book will go more smoothly. It seems odd that Curiosity Quills wouldn’t at least let me finish up the sequel to a book it had already published. But these are lean times.

I’ve been watching several documentaries for work. More and more instructors are using films as part of their curriculum. For an herbology class, I watched Lumen, about whole plant healing. And for an environmental studies class I watched Revolution, about the state of our oceans. It saddened me to hear that the director and originator of Revolution died in a diving accident. Another voice for our planet stilled.

My lease for my car runs out in a year, so I’ve started the search for a new vehicle. It needs to have good head room, very comfortable back seats, be easy for my Mom to get in and out of, and get at least 30 miles a gallon on the highway. (In my neck of the woods, highway means a secondary road.) I’m thinking some sort of crossover, but I’ve yet to find one that meets all of my requirements. I’m glad I have the year to sort it all out. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Time for me to close. I’ve a meatloaf to make and a daughter to visit before I start my shift. Unfortunately I got a late start to the morning, tangled up in a dream about hitchhiking in the Scottish countryside with a goat.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

 

 

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