Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Turn in the Road Less Traveled

My laptop, sweet, precious, ever-available sidekick, keeper of treasures, soother of my soul, my precious, my own, hit the floor today. Hard. At my unwitting hand. BAM! It happened so fast I’m not sure what did, only that my outstretched fingertips connected like a karate jab and it flew clatter bang to the hardwood floor, barely missing the soft, wool rug.

 “Oh no, your laptop,” my client cried.

 “Oh no, my laptop,” I echoed.

We looked at each other, eyes wide in shock, then I scurried around the desk thinking, “she’ll be okay, I know she will”, and scooped her up in a love-cuddle like a baby. She is, in a way. Only so much more.

Miraculously she’s still ticking. Prayerfully, she’ll continue for a long, long time. Or at least until we’ve had a few more years together.

Like this train of thought, my life has taken a right turn, one I knew was inevitable, but it frightens me nonetheless. The hip trouble that began three years ago after a rear-ender (while driving down a quiet street at the speed limit!) has escalated.

I can limp along (literally, though on good days it’s imperceptible), trying to avoid a hip replacement or I can get past the fear and do it now. This avoids further wear and tear to the surrounding and supported joints and, if I believe those who've already done it, will give me my life back.

So. Fear aside, it’s the logical thing to do.

Without quoting particulars, suffice it to say that I’ve done enough research to know the procedure and type of prosthesis best for me, which points me back to the Ortho I saw in December. He’s a great doc, I like and trust him, and one of his offices is ten miles from my house. The fact that he’s handsome has nothing to do with it. I promise.

That said, the recovery could take as long as six to twelve weeks (it’s my right/driving hip). As a single woman who owns her own business (meaning – no workie, no payie) that prospect is daunting, but God is good and I have no doubt he will provide. As always.

I’m proud of myself. Five months ago I was in denial, today my brain is slowly, but surely wrapping synapses around this. I'm thinking September - December, after my trip to Idaho and the Oregon coast.

In the meantime I’ll prepare, not only mentally and emotionally, but financially. That means saving money and moving ahead with a new venture, one I can do even laid up, recovering from surgery: get my photographs on stock websites for download/sale.

Like my affinity for words, I seem to be drawn to and have an eye for light, beauty and composition. Mostly I aim and click. And take lots of pictures. But the results, at times, are stunning.

I will close with a request. For good thoughts. Well-wishes. And prayers. For my laptop, the sweet, unassuming instrument that even now records my thoughts, and for me as photographer, writer and human being.

Thank you so much!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Uneasy Writer

It makes me nervous when people I know start dying. One’s bad enough, but so far today the count is three. The blues legend BB King who lived a long life, but will be missed by generations. Mark Johnson IIII, one of the marines that went down with the helicopter in Nepal, married to a distant cousin (of mine) with two little children, ages four and eighteen months. Now Elaine Dwyer, a sweet lady from my church.*

This engenders a streak of unease that runs through me like a snake exploring dark, tortuous tunnels and now that it’s exposed to the light, guilt creeps in for just feeling uneasy when the families must truly be suffering.

Clouds crowd together overhead as the wind blows past, impotent to make it rain. I want it to. I need it to, as much as the near-parched land. But it doesn’t.

~ Olivia J. Herrell
* Plus the eighty-five hundred dead and three thousand injured in the Nepalese quakes.

BB King (and guests) performing "You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone". Yes, BB, we sure will!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Works Every Time: Sit Down, Slit It Open, Spill It Out

Today is Saturday. I wrote this on Monday. It seems like weeks ago.

Today I realized I’m unhappy. Again.

Oh, not in my mind. There I’m happy. Or I think I am. I have plenty of evidence. I love my work. I enjoy my community and volunteering for the city. I have a church (for the first time in forty years.) My completed manuscript (first in nine years) is tucked away waiting to be reread with a fresh eye, and manuscript two is half written.

When I look at my behavior, or rather behaviors, plural, the signs are there. I won’t list them all, but I bet you’ll recognize a few. They include:
  • eating crap “food” including demon sugar
  • weight gain
  • shopping
  • moping
  • disinterest in outside activities
  • inability to exercise
  • running off to coffee shops, restaurants or other places to write
  • hours of Netflix
  • going to bed early
  • staring in to space (not the good, daydreaming kind)
  • avoiding decisions
  • running on auto-pilot
There are probably more, but these off-the-top-of-my-head ones are enough. I get the idea. Do you? 

What now? Figure out why?

Not necessarily.

I could distract myself, flesh out a profile on match dot com, find a man and ride that “new love” feeling for, well, maybe years. Or rent an apartment within walking distance of my favorite coffee shop/writing locale. That would open up space in the office for a couple of massage therapists, a nutritionist and/or some other cool "ist". Or I could bring in a doctor to share the practice, take care of patients when I’m away.
Any of these would bring activity. Break the boredom. Create happiness. If only temporary. But the truth is, I don’t know if I can be happy in West Georgia. I close my eyes, and I’m in Southern California, on a trail meandering through a scrub canyon, alone and safe, a half-mile from my complex and bustling traffic, with a smile that splits my face in two. All from pure joy. Of place.

I miss that. I miss it a lot.

So is my unhappiness place-related? I’m leaning toward yes. I have evidence.

The last I remember that kind of smile on my face, and my heart soaring, was a year ago. In Oregon, on a coast so wild as to never be tamed, in old-growth forests that march to the sea, along a ring of fire that will someday bring doom to us all.

There, I was happy. There, my heart soared. There, the smile remained plastered to my face. There, joy dwelt in my soul.

But, back to today, and my point.

If you are one of the many people that don’t know this secret, listen up.

Something wonderful happens when you put pen to paper, or fingertips to keys, and spill your blood and guts.

The subconscious is appeased. It’s had its say. And whatever the dilemma, you can always, ALWAYS get relief.
Once done with this process, I was able to return to manuscript two, stitching together the different voices into one fluid, (hopefully) flowing story. I cut the crap and sugar from my diet, including cola, got lots of sleep, and in spite of the fact that my day-job workload increased, and it was a crazy, bouncy, electrified-energy kind of week, I felt better and better each day.

Not only did I complete the edits today (through the last page written - 202), but I finished the related “God’s Eye View” spreadsheet, color-coded to keep the stories straight and evenly s/paced. It also ensures that one of the many (and egads, growing, number of) characters don’t stay silent, or hog the spotlight, for too long.

(Compressed to Protect Contents)
Instead of making a splash (splat?) on match dot com, or running off to spend a bunch of hard-earned cash on an apartment I don’t need, I cleaned up my food, walked around the neighborhood, cleaned the house, belly-laughed at an old comedy I discovered on Netflix (Out of Practice) and drank lots of home-brewed kombucha.
But mostly? I dove back in to writing. My true love. My precious. My own.

~ Olivia J. Herrell
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