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I just wanted to stop in and share with anyone who might still be lurking around here or stopping in that I made it into the Winter Issue of Still: The Journal! I have a short story included called “No Part of This”. Silas House is the fiction editor of this journal, so I was overjoyed to have made it in. 🙂

http://www.stilljournal.net

In my twenties, I didn’t think much about self improvement.  I would have laughed at anyone suggesting a self-help book.  I read little on spirituality, and honestly didn’t have a clue where I fit in.  I figured I was who I was by that time and I had to learn to endure the faults, the neurosis, and the walls that I had built for myself.  What I did dwell on were the negative parts of my childhood.  I couldn’t seem to move passed them, and I felt like I would need to muster all the strength I could to move on down the line.  I also clung to the good parts of my childhood.  They stuck to me – bittersweet, moments of bliss that were only to be glanced at here and there.

After becoming pregnant with Deladis, I realized that life was much more than existing in a past you can’t change.  I realized that there were things I didn’t want to pass on to my daughter.  Things that can be excused in families.  All ___ (insert family name) are mule headed.  Oh, you get that temper from your Uncle ___.  You’re always depressed, just like your ____.  Things that are chalked up as inherited personality traits, that can very well be negative if given the right circumstances, but given a different environment can be worked with and made into positives.  Instead of saying, that’s who I am, it’s in the blood, we can work to stop the scars that are passed down through generations in families.  Those scars don’t have to be a curse.  The fact is, you don’t have to live with them anymore the moment you choose to see them for what they are and no longer choose to accept them.  Not that it isn’t hard work through them, but acknowledgment that there is no power there to hold you.

I didn’t completely understand my great desire to become a better me after becoming a parent.  I would catch little thoughts as they passed through my mind that would hint at why.  If you keep losing your cool, your relationship with your child will erode. Do you ever want her to wonder if she is loved? Then, there is the whole aspect of parenting daughters as a woman.  Stop downing your physical appearance in front of your child.  You don’t want her to spend her whole adolescence thinking she is an ugly duckling or not feminine because she doesn’t like makeup or spending too much time on her hair.

Eli, The Good the most recent novel by the eastern Kentucky author Silas House came out in September 2009.  My grandmother went to North Carolina to hear him read and to buy me a signed copy of the book.  I thought that pretty dang cool of her considering she was supporting an independent bookstore and she was buying me the best kind of material present I could ever receive.  Silas House is my very favorite author.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this novel.  I had heard him read an excerpt at the Hindman Settlement School’s Appalachian Writer’s Workshop evening readings over the summer.  I appreciated the segment he read.  I soaked in the frankness of the tone and took up the imagery, making a movie in my mind, as the best books do for me.  I relished in his audible voice, true to his accent and unapologetic.  The kind that makes you even more proud to be who you are because someone molded from the same clay as you is making a difference in the world.  I was ready for this book.

I opened it and began reading, noticing immediately that this novel was very different from his first three (a series with the same family as characters).  It was different in feeling and much different in tone.  It was told from the voice of a ten year old child, Eli Book.  While the setting was obviously the mountains, it was more universal.  It felt like it could be many places.  Immediately, I felt like that child could have been me.

I went through the first half of the book wondering where it was taking me.  I didn’t grasp it fully because at times it was a very uncomfortable place to be, but as I moved onward I understood that was exactly the point.

By the end of the novel, I felt like I had been on a life transforming journey.  The kind that is a one way ticket.  You go from beginning to end and never look back.  The end of the novel held the juice for me.  Eli’s father dealt with demons brought back from the Vietnam war.  A war he had gone to fight still being only a child.  Eli’s mother clung to the love she found with his father because she had not known love as a child.  There was Eli and his sister both feeling the very same way, but coming to the understanding that what they were feeling was not the reality of their life, but the feelings that their parents were carrying with them and projecting out onto their lives.

But then he saw me.  I just stood there, feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness wash over me.  I had felt alone all my life, had felt as if my parents only saw each other as they moved through the world, thought they loved each other so much that there was no room to love me.  But now, by the way Daddy looked at me, I knew better.

His faced is what convinced me.  He was so hurt to see me there, to know I had seen all of this.  So I knew, once and for all, that he did care if I existed or not.

Eli, The Good by Silas House, Chapter 25, pg. 265

It was that moment in the book that sealed the deal for me and my commitment to becoming my true self.  The self that is uninhibited by my circumstances or past.  This was the point that gave me hope.  The hope that despite my shortcomings and my personal pitfalls, my children will at some point be assured of the fact that I love them and I love having been a part of giving them life.  They will know it because it is true.

All the things that I am doing are not only for myself at this point, though I believe looking inward is important  for people in all walks of life.  It is for my family.  From the choice of Waldorf inspired education, to moving up in the head of no where, to making our traditional culture a daily part of our life, those choices were made to help my children experience childhood.  We can grow up so quickly.  My spiritual studies, my yoga practice, my writing and reading, making the choice to become a childbirth educator, are all part of ending a cycle and embracing my natural state of well being.  Disease is not our natural state.  It is dis-ease.  Feelings of inadequacy, depletion, and blaming are not natural.  These are things that can be healed.  These are things that with mindfulness can be made whole in beautiful ways.

I want to bring my children up in a healing environment.  I want to do all I can to insure that I leave little baggage for them to carry into their adult life.  Any baggage they will have will be theirs, personal and part of that which helps us become independent of our parents.  It will be the stuffs of a beautiful life and the tools to make it a complete one.

I’ve been threatening to announce something for a week or two now.  It’s time.  I’ve been struggling to come to terms with what I feel like are big failures in my life as a mama and homemaker.  I can’t keep my house straight or organized.  I’m tired and feel disconnected more than I would like to.  The fact is that I think I am getting burned out.  Without many breaks to be had, and with basically no social life aside from taking my girls to see their grandparents, I’m suffering to find balance.  I’m looking for an outlet.  I have to have one in order to do my job at home to the best of my ability.

A few week’s ago, I thought God had given me a very blunt answer to my prayers about what my life is supposed to be.  I thought the answer was that I was being selfish and I needed to realize that I chose life as a mother and wife and that being home, homeschooling, and homemaking – devoting my life solely to my children and husband was where I belonged and where my purpose lies.  I was not to add another activity, but focus on fixing my shortcomings at home, and find all the happiness I need in being given that blessing.

The answer that I had thought I had gotten was through something that I thought was happening to me.  Thought.  It boogers us up sometimes.  What I thought was happening was not, and I was disappointed.  Disappointed not because I had hoped or planned for this event to happen, but because I thought I was getting a straight answer and my worry and searching was over.  I had resolved myself to simply being what I am now and had vowed to make it work.  Now, I was back to square one.

Then, after a few days of mulling it over I realized what had actually happened was an open door.  It was a door that when stepped through allowed for me to make my life new.  It allowed me to acknowledge that my feelings of aloneness and churning were legitimate, and because they are I don’t have to try to rid myself of them by pretending there is something wrong with me.  Instead, I can do something about them.  That is what I have decided to do.

I need to use the talents and passions that God gave me.  I can write.  I am passionate about safe childbirth and breastfeeding.  I am in love with yoga.  Books make me happy.  I also need to make an effort to connect with others and get some time outside of the home.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life in this holler.  I would live nowhere else, yet there needs to be balance in my life – a chance to breathe and contribute what I can.

I have decided to take a course and become a certified childbirth educator.  I would teach all aspects of birthing, but focus on helping women achieve a normal vaginal birth when possible.  I hope to help promote breastfeeding and natural childbirth.  I am also getting certified for teaching prenatal yoga in the spring.

Along with this, I plan to do more with blogging in the form of a couple of niche blogs that I’ll announce here when I get it all worked out.  I may try my hand at some nonfiction articles and submitting those.  I will also be stepping up finding a publisher for my short story collection and finishing my novel.  I may consider self-publishing.  I received a note from an editor on one of my story rejections this week encouraging me to send more.  Usually rejections are just the form letter, so when you get some real ink from a pen on there, it is promising.

I want to help bring in some income and I want to use my skills.  I want to have something to do that will relieve me a little from time to time.  I don’t know how I am going to work it around our homeschool schedule, or how I will manage childcare if I need it.  I’m taking the plunge without that being set in stone.  I have to.  For my sake and for my girls.  I simply feel like I was designed that way.

We are social beings – even the most introverted of us.  I read an article in the November/December issue of Mothering Magazine by Heather Hall about her family building a house where they lived along with her parents and her husband’s mother.  I have been looking into the history in women’s lives, and I also saw this article on the Mothering website.  The nuclear family living in separate houses from their elder parents and other family members is a relatively new thing.  Historically, women had a village around them, and we’ve all heard the statement – it takes a village to raise a child.  In other words, they had ready fellowship, an occasional break from their childcare duties, and an outlet.  Mothering where I am now is a very isolated thing.  I don’t think I have to feel guilty by feeling that I need something else to go along with my efforts here.  If I don’t have a village, I have to create a situation where we are all balanced and ready to be all we can be for each other.

As I work out what this will mean for my family, I will write about it.  We are still homesteading, and I am still homeschooling, and will primarily be a stay-at-home mom.  I will just be seeking to do some things on the side.

I have a little quiet time.  Both of the girls are napping, which is a bit unusual.  I have a million things I need to be doing, but I’ve decided to update the blog in a more formal way.  I don’t know when I will have the chance again.

I was going to post about our work on the barn and moving our chickens there.  I don’t know how much time I have and I haven’t uploaded the pictures yet, so I will post about life for me now.  This is almost becoming a journal for me.  If nothing else, it is a way to keep my family up from afar, and a way for me to keep a record of our life.

After the last five weeks of things being so out of sorts around here, I feel like I’ve fallen into a land of chaos.  There is so much to do and so much to be done.  Catch my drift? 🙂  I think the ups and downs and the interruptions to our rhythm have fostered in a “stage” with the girls.  They are both so very needy right now in different ways.  It has caused me to pull back a little to problem solve.  Sometimes it is so overwhelming being a mother – meeting everyone’s needs.  I’m trying to observe where I am falling short in my keeping up a rhythm that satisfies all of us.  That takes thinking about the girls and their needs throughout the day, adding in my goals for things to accomplish, and making sure John is fed and has clean clothes, along with a semi-tidy house.  What about time to just be a family?

I have decided to use the Daily Guide I purchased from Little Acorn, but create my own curriculum to go in that.  I’m feeling we need something a bit more natural to us and to the age of the girls.  I have to find our flow.  There are several books that I’m looking to purchase to help me along, and one I have on loan.  The loaner is Festivals, Family, and Food by Diana Carey and Judy Large.  It is filled with seasonal songs, verses, food, stories, games, and crafts.  It has most of the major American holidays and lots of European holidays or those less familiar to us.    The others I plan to purchase are:

This is a lot of reading.  I am trying to read four books right now.  Eli, the Good by Silas House, Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer, Concentration by Ernest Wood, and The Christian Home by the Valley View Mennonite Church.  I do a daily Bible study.  I am also attempting to enjoy the magazines and journals I subscribe to – Mothering Magazine, Yoga Journal, Appalachian Heritage, and Fugue.  Reading the blogs I love as well as exploring the new ones, is another reading goal.  Studying up on Kundalini Yoga, keeping up with yahoogroups, Facebook, and email… more reading.  Did I mention I’m an information hound?

I’m feeling like I need to pull back from myself.  I’m healing and seeking and seeking some more.  It’s not a wonder that I am having such difficulty making my mind be still.  Again, I recall… “Cease striving and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10.  In trying to make things easier and more organized, I’m finding that I am slipping into a need for days to be 72 hours long.  I’m becoming more and more tempted to shut it all off for awhile and trying to just listen.  Yet, I need to study and prepare myself to teach my children, practice my yoga, and truly understand my spirituality and religious beliefs.  What gives? Did I mention that I am still trying to write and submit?

How do I stop this momentum?  How do I keep the things of interest and necessity to me to one at a time?  I’ve never been good at balancing my life or organizing it.  I get things done, but I’m wondering if I am not going about it the hard way.  I was gifted in other areas. 😉

In all of this, I see the tremendous blessings in my life.  I have the opportunity to learn about whatever I please, and devote as much time as is necessary and good to my family.  That is a jewel more precious than any diamond.

I was part of a women’s Bible study about a week ago.  When it came time to ask for prayer, I did at the last minute after taking too long to muster the courage.  I asked the ladies to pray for me to find fulfillment in the now.  The role I chose as wife and mother was exactly that – a choice.  I have been doing a lot of thinking on the role of women today.  I come across so many women whether online or in real life who are, like me, seeking to balance so many obligations, or what feels to them like things they are obligated to do.  The feminist movement gave us a choice.  We are no longer just the homemaker, child rearer, cook, laundress, or maid to another wealthier woman.  We have the option to choose a “career” over family and marriage.  We are as capable as men to hold and succeed at a variety of jobs and professional positions.  I am thankful for those women who fought for that right.

The problem has come for me in the fact that many women want the “career” but they still have the desire to be mothers and/or wives.  We choose both and it becomes a juggling act that some of us do very well with, and others of us feel like we are sinking into an abyss.  I didn’t want to be a mother going into marriage.  John didn’t want to be a father.  Then, we lost someone very dear to us at an early age to cancer and we realized that family was the most important thing earthside.  God placed it on both of us that we needed children.  It was something we had never considered before.  We both had dreams of artistic endeavors, traveling, never being tied down.

I had set out to be a writer and a teacher of writing on the college level.  John’s dream is one he is fulfilling in every way even now – a working artist and musician.  When I got pregnant with Deladis, it became obvious to both of us that it would not pay for me to work.  Neither of us wanted to leave our child in the care of a stranger for most of our day.  I decided that after Deladis was born, I would resign my teaching position and be a stay-at-home mom.  We would have to give up a lot to do it.  We couldn’t buy clothes for ourselves very often or buy them new.  We would have to give up our health insurance.  Traveling would be something that we would have to save for and plan well, if we got to do it at all.  There was a lot that most people in our families and circles couldn’t believe we should or would give up.  Deladis was born and I was staying home.

At first I was gung-ho about being a mom and only a mom.  I understood with all my heart that it was a full time job.  I enjoyed my days with my baby and loved learning about parenthood and all the fun stuff that goes with it.  We went for walks.  I became involved with a local attachment parenting group.  Then, all those comments from the people we love crept in.  “How will you all make it?”  “It takes two incomes to live in today’s economy.”  “When do you think you’ll go back to work?”  “You all need health insurance.”

When I paid the bills every month and saw time and again how we had just enough to pay them, it was hard.  Instead of feeling blessed with having our basic needs met, I began to feel guilty.  Now, our culture has changed.  Whereas before, people would condemn a woman for working outside of the home or at a non-domestic type of position, now, they seem to fear or look down upon a woman who chooses motherhood as her profession.  I felt guilty for not working.  I felt like the people around me (other than the mothers who had also made the choice I had) were looking for me to throw in the towel and get a job.  To do the “right” thing by my husband and children.

Since, those first feelings came upon me, I have been seeking to make some kind of money.  I had never quit writing, but I had been taking my time with it.  Doing it more because it was a strong desire rather than trying to make money doing it.  I tried an at-home business that was sort of telemarketing.  I was burned out quickly with that, and was sinking more money into the business than I was making.  I watched John diligently working all hours of the day and night, traveling alone to festivals on the weekends, and I began to dream of him being able to slow down a little.  I felt like I needed to find a way to stay home and make money, eventhough we have never been in a place where we couldn’t pay our bills since I made the decision to be a full time mom.

I have realized that those expectations that others have for me are ones that I have adopted as my own.  They are not the best for me.  I am not like these women who are happy juggling all the roles.  I want to write again because that is what I like to do and someday I’d like to see my work in print, not because I feel like I am in a race to make money.  I want to be fully present for my children and not pressured to perform while trying to meet their needs.  I have few places outside of our home and the internet where I can talk of the triumphs of my mothering.  Many of our friends are single adults or childless couples.  Those who have children live away from us or are acquaintances only.  When I am part of conversations where people are talking about their work and accomplishments, I tend to stay quiet or only offer well wishes.  Ivy using a spoon for the first time, or Deladis starting dance class isn’t exactly something that excites most social activists, working artists, musicians, or career minded folks.  I share when I have something to say about my writing, but even that is often on the outskirts of exciting.

Since opening the door to choice, (which is a great thing, don’t get me wrong) we have really not allowed for women to fully make that choice and be fulfilled in simply being a wife and mother in the home.  The seeds of doubt are planted.  Many at-home moms spend their days alone, seeking conversation here and there, and wondering if they are doing a good job.  We put pressure on mothers to choose work and homelife and to balance those roles perfectly.  They also must remain physically and mentally healthy while doing so.  Those who choose both and do well, can often be made to feel like they could perform even better without the home obligations and are encouraged to take on more.  The women who choose career are talked about as selfish, or that they will grow old lonely.  Why can’t society just be happy for us in what we choose?

The fact is that it is imperative that I understand that all the fulfillment I need is right here in my home with my husband and my children.  A woman in our group said to me, “The world won’t suffer for one less story written.  It won’t know the difference.”  At first, I wanted to cry right there and tell her how dare she say that about the work I love to do.  But, in the next second I realized that she was right.  She wasn’t saying not to write when the time was right, or even not to try to work it in to my schedule, but that I needed to look at it as I did before – as something I did because I love it, not because I’m trying to make money or having bragging rights.  The writing I do will be better for it.

Since choosing at this time to homeschool, I don’t foresee my getting an outside job anytime in the near future.  John and I continue to live a lifestyle different than most in the United States strive for or live daily.  We aren’t up to the standards of so many, but our needs are met and we are happy with our lifestyle.  I wonder how it will be when my children are older and I am still home with them.  I wonder how people will see me.  I know I’ll be writing more then.  I have decided that no matter the comments, I’m going to allow myself to believe what I know.  Motherhood is the most important job of all when that’s the choice you’ve made.

I am exhausted yet I keep on going… somehow.  Ivy has been having trouble sleeping at night and last night was a bad one.  All four of us were up by 5:00 this morning.  Ivy tosses and turns all night, then she wakes, sits up in the bed and cries and/or babbles.  I wake up feeling like I’ve been in a tag team wrestling match and my hopes of quitting coffee in the near future have changed to sometime in the future.

I have also been informed by some bloodwork we had done that Ivy is slightly anemic.  So, I’ve been reading up on that at Nourished Kitchen and Cheeseslave.  Then, comes the decision of whether to use the supplemental drops along with the multivitamin with iron she already eats everyday.  I don’t want to overdo it.  The optimal choice would be to try to get her to eat more iron rich foods, but see… her appetite is hit or miss.  Not sure.  You gotta love those difficult mothering decisions.

The other excitement keeping both John and I busy is the preparation for a duo presentation to a group in Louisville on Appalachian culture.  John is presenting art and music of the mountains. I will be presenting Appalachian literature, and I am so excited to get to share information about authors from the Kentucky mountains.  I love talking culture and I can’t wait to give my take on the literature of our area in terms of where it has been and where it is headed.  I’m also going to share the URLs to some Appalachian themed or written blogs.

Mountain Muse

Blind Pig and The Acorn

The Breeder Files

Thrifty Southern Mama

Hazard’s Glory Years

Appalachian Lifestyles

Appalachian History

I’m even more thrilled that I get a day with my husband that is just the two of us.  A long car ride, we’ll stop at Whole Foods to stock up on those grocery items we can’t find here, and then home again.  Time to be a couple with John is something I’d like to experience a little more often than we do.

I have to admit that there is great satisfaction in having this opportunity to work a little and help John provide for us.  I believe I have accepted that right now isn’t going to be the time that I will have regular pay coming in.  Being an at-home mother is a choice I will never regret.  My job as a mother is the one that needs my full attention at this stage of our lives.  However, though my progress may be slow and staggered out, I am not hindered from working toward my goal of eventually working as a part of Haywood Art – the writer part. 🙂  Things will fall into place when the time is appropriate.

I sit here writing with heavy eyes and so many thoughts of things I need to do, should do, and would like to do.  I’m thinking of family I haven’t gotten to email or talk with in awhile, books I want to read, research on homeschooling and yoga I’d like to do,  and stories, essays, and novels I want to write.  I’d never in a million years have thought, when I sat bored in my room wishing for a way out of the holler and to the movie theater with my friends as a teen, that a person could be this busy here.  I love it that we live and learn.

fullmoon

* There comes a time when unexpected things creep in and demand our attention.  This has been one of those moments for me, and I felt it appropriate to share it with you.

Yes, that’s right.  I’m reading the first book in the series of teenage vampire, thriller, romances written by Stephenie Meyer.  Am I reading it by choice, you ask?  No,  previously, I would not have chosen to read a selection such as this, as I’m more about reading books written for adults.  I’m am reading it on the insistence of my fifteen year old niece, who last time she visited us brought the movie and the book.  She required that I watch the movie intently, not talking at all during the viewing, and then she handed me the book and said that I should have it read by the time I see her again.  So, I’m reading it on assignment.

Being a former middle school Language Arts teacher, I have read plenty of young adult novels.  However, I stuck to the classics mostly, like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and Will the Circle be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor.  Both of those are classics because they deal with universal issues of growing up that any child will face no matter the time and place of their rearing.  They are also firmly based in reality.  The Outsiders is still one of my all time favorite works of fiction.  I probably would have never read these books if I hadn’t been a teacher.  I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books or Lemony Snicket.  I’m all grown up –  for crying out loud.

I don’t know why my niece insisted that I read this novel.  I don’t know if she wanted me to fall helplessly in love with it and fill my house full of posters and wear the t-shirts on outings.  I hope it’s because she loves her aunt and values her opinion and wants her to be a part of the things that interest her.  Despite the hopes she may have had in mind, I have had my own approach to the reading.  I’m analyzing it as a mother and writer.  I figure I better get used to reading novels written for tweens, teens, and young adults because I need to be able to recommend books to my daughters and I must be aware of what they are reading.  From a writer’s standpoint, this woman wrote a hit novel, made the bestsellers lists, and sold the movie rights.  Not that I am looking for that kind of fame, but I have to extend to her my respect for that accomplishment.

I have to say that I highly approve of this as a reading selection for any teenager or young adult.  I applaud Stephenie Meyer for writing fiction that is juicy, interesting, and mainstream all while keeping it clean.  It is a fragile balance and I think she has done it perfectly.  I would have no qualms for my own children reading this book or watching the movie.  They are excellent choices.  In our over sexed pop culture, we need more options like this one.

When I read the first chapter I felt many of the phrasings were trite and I found the first person narration to be too obvious at times – spoon feeding the reader.  I have had to keep in mind the intended audience.  However, as I have gotten deeper into the work, I have fallen into the voice and I don’t notice those trite or obvious moments as much.  The characters are engaging and consistent.  I am more reminded of my own adolescence and my hopes for dating, friendship, and self discovery.

I am also brought back to my own teenage years and my readings of Anne Rice novels.  I read all of her vampire novels which were not written with teenagers in mind at all.  I enjoyed them thoroughly and even wrote a paper for my senior advanced placement English class on why they should be considered literary writings. 🙂  I was very adamant about that.

At first, I looked at Twilight and the nearly 500 pages of it, and dreaded the reading.  I’m a slow reader and I didn’t want to invest the time in it.  Now, I’m glad I have.  I’m almost halfway through, and I’m at awe at how a mother of three boys could get so much work done.  I’m definitely going to check out Meyer’s website to see if I can glean any hope of being that productive with my own writing in the near future.

I recall when the movie first came out on DVD.  I was at the movie rental place on the eve of its release.  The clerk was chatting with his friends.  He must have been in his very late teens or early twenties.  The group was buzzing about the release, and talking about who they got to direct the next movie.  I was reminded of the buzz surrounding Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt starring in Interview with the Vampire.  The fawning delayed the clerk from processing my rentals.  He apologized for the delay.  I said, “No, problem.  We used to be that way over Anne Rice.”  I smiled.  He looked at me like I was an alien who had just landed my ship in the middle of the movie store.  I felt a bit outdated, but okay with that.  Now, I’m being brought up to date.  I find it humorous – quite humorous indeed. 🙂

  • Main Entry: blog
  • Pronunciation: \ˈblg, ˈbläg\
  • Function: noun
  • Etymology: short for Weblog
  • Date: 1999

: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also : the contents of such a site

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

I am still trying to learn to blog, and researching exactly what a blog is supposed to do.  As with many things pertaining to the “hot” activities on computers and the internet, I have been brought into it from the suggestion of another instead of it being my own idea.  Before finding The Breeder Files, I thought blogging was something a teenager did, or someone who enjoyed gossiping about celebrities.  Much like Myspace, I had to be convinced that blogging was a serious venture.  My teen aged niece forced a Myspace account on me, and though it has lost much of its former appeal to me these days, I maintain it along with a Facebook account (more for the big kids 😉 ).  I have yet to make the leap to Twitter, but have almost signed up once before changing my mind and quickly leaving the site, knowing that I don’t have much more time to devote to computer activities.

See, I am a fan of printed materials.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time in front of the screen.  I love the smell of paper, the texture of it across my fingertips, and the various styles of printed fonts.  I love the permanency of print.  I like the fact that you purchase it and it is forever yours to read and re-read.  It is something you can take with you anywhere.  As much as I mourn the moving of readers to internet and computer venues, there comes a point when you must warm to the thought of utilizing the change for your own good.  There are many pluses to things being published online, that most folks are aware of by now, but for me, the appeal of blogging was making myself write something everyday.  I have made many poor attempts at journaling, and have always stopped the process within weeks.  Getting a readership for even my everyday thoughts, has spurred me forward.  It is uplifting.  I have learned that blogging is a very respectable writing form, with many many uses.

I have found some blogs lately that have been pretty good reads, helpful to me as a beginner, or simply a nice place to visit.  My creative endeavors usually take the form of fiction in short story and novel, and I do some essay writing along with creative non-fiction.  So, to learn more about a form of writing, the best place to start is to look at those who already do it well.  I’m also realizing that blogs are one way to learn about various topics from real people and real experiences.  Blogs are also a great way to connect with others that have similar goals as you.  It is funny because before a friend suggested I tried it, I was kind of turned off by the word “blog”.  I didn’t like the way it sounded, and I thought it was a passing phase, or akin to reality television.  I’m glad I’ve been shown better.

Blogs I’ve Enjoyed Recently (or have learned from lately):

  • Blind Pig and The Acorna wonderfully organized, beautiful, and interesting blog about country living and various topics, including Appalachia and traditional music.  Tipper found me first and I visited her blog from a link she left me here.  I’m glad she stopped by for I’ve enjoyed her page and gotten some neat ideas from her about things to try here.  Especially how to show my readers appreciation.
  • Sunny Day Today Mama – this blog is about a mama’s life with her sunny boy.  The photographs are stunning and this blog has made me stop and think sometimes when I tend to get wordy here.  She says so much with her pictures, and it helps me to make my words meaningful and few.  (When I don’t get carried away… 😉 )
  • The Breeder Files -a blog with childbearing hips.  This mama is always an inspiration to me, but I particularly love the turn her blog has taken of late.  I have mentioned her here before, and it seems like her posts are becoming more and more pertinent to my day to day.  I read so many blogs that seem to come from no place at all and no real thought.  This blog is heartfelt and real.  It’s what blogs of this type should be.
  • Snapshots and Tweeners –  This is a blog of a friend of ours who is also a photographer.  I didn’t know he had a blog and stumbled upon it to find pictures of my hubby and girls there.  Excellent pictures!  He is making social commentary through photos.  I had to share this one because while it isn’t your conventional blog, I think it is doing important work.

I’m starting to understand what a blog is and what it can be.  I have been so against internet publishing in the past, but there comes a time when movement is necessary to survive and even to grow.  This blog has become something I’ve invested a lot of myself in at a time when I’ve been otherwise worn thin.  It has helped me in tremendous ways through the simple act of chronicling.  I hope to share with you more blogs that inspire me as I learn more about blogging.  I hope you enjoy these.

I’ve been assisting singer, songwriter, and dancer Carla Gover with teaching Kids on the Creek this week at the Cowan Mountain Music School.  It is an awesome time and a great privilege for me to get to be a part of that and passing on our traditions.  Our age range is from 5-11 years of age not including my girls.  It’s for sure an adventure.  Our theme for the week is “magic”.

So, needless to say, I am scrambling to find the time to write quality blog posts this week, but I did realize that my busy self forgot to draw the winner for my own Give Away on June 5th.  Deladis drew out the lucky winner out of 6 entries to win 2 of John’s postcards with prints of his original artwork.  That winner was Susie!  🙂  Thanks to everyone who entered.

I also want to mention that my next give away begins now, and the drawing will be held on July 20th.  Two winners will receive a copy of Kudzu Magazine featuring my story that won the Gurney Norman Prize for Short Fiction.  I have a few extra copies that I’d like to get out to folks who otherwise might not run across one, so if you are interested, please comment on this post or under the heading Give Aways at the top of my main page.  The story is about a city cop who ends up having to stay home to take care of his newborn.

Over at the Nourished Kitchen the voting is being held for the winner of the Clean Your Plate recipe contest.  My recipe for honey molasses cookies is in the running.  All the recipes look great.  I’m pretty excited about the honey sweetened strawberry preserves.  Yum!  Go take a look at that great blog and resource for good wholesome food ideas, and vote for your favorite recipe.

Another thing I’d like to ask of my readers, if you wouldn’t mind to give your answer to the poll I have placed in the left column on my main page, I’d love to hear what kinds of topics interest you and bring you to my blog.  I appreciate all my readers so very much.  It is amazingly gratifying for a writer, and though this blog is in part for me, it is mostly for you.  Otherwise, I’d just keep a journal. 😉  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Until tomorrow…

I was reading a post on Lia Mack’s blog Blissfully Beguiling that got me thinking about why I should even be attempting to make writing my career.  I have other things I could do with my life as far as interests and things that might bring in an income go.  Things that would be a whole lot easier to be successful at.  I could go back to teaching public school (Well, you’d have to pay me quite a bit more.  No, a whole lot more, and cut the red tape.).  I could apprentice to be a doula or an aspiring homebirth midwife (I watched The Business of Being Born last night.  It was a temptress of a film.  Makes you want a baby in the belly, and makes you want to witness birth over and over again.)  I could become a small business owner of a bookstore, health/natural food, or open my own restaurant (I know.  All excellent choices in this economy.  But, what is an excellent choice anymore?).

I will never forget when I read the first novel of my favorite author – Clay’s Quilt by Silas House.  It moved me beyond what I could have imagined from a work written by someone closer in age to myself then most authors I had been reading.  I was taken aback by how similar it felt to my work, yet so great.  I was shocked by the similarities so much so that I began to question the relevance of my own work.  How could we be writing works so similar in style and context and neither of us having read or been influenced by the other.  I thought that it might be time for me to give it up writing.  It didn’t matter that I am woman and he is a man.  He writes women flawlessly in my opinion.  I had become irrelevant.

However, those thoughts lasted only a few days for me.  I realized soon that it wasn’t that I had become irrelevant, but despite the fact that I haven’t been recognized or widely published, and I am still working on my first novel, I had become part of a collective.  A writing movement – dare I say a literary movement.  (Wow!  Big words.)  We aren’t only similar in our writings, but similar people as well.  We are both from the hills of eastern Kentucky, in the throes of coal mining, country music, and the nineteen eighties.  Our backgrounds are fueling our writing content.  I began searching out more Appalachian writers from my generation and reading their works, and I noticed more similarities.  I noticed that though we each have individual voices, topics, and experiences, we are all writing our stories.  We are perpetuating our culture, showing the meeting place of two worlds in the past and present.  It has become pretty exciting to me.

So, while I could sell great books and promote Appalachian literature, I could promote health and well being, feed folks good food, help mothers achieve positive birth outcomes, or teach oodles of Kentucky children to appreciate literature – what I want to do is share the story of my generation.  I want to share the story of my Appalachia.  I want to share it with Appalachians, Louisvillians, New Yorkers, the Japanese, Canadians, the man behind the counter at the sub shop, your mother, my former teachers, or anyone looking for a good story.  I want to preserve a spot in history for the things passed down to me.  I want to pass them on mostly importantly to the people being brought up here in the mountains.  I want to be a part of this collective of Appalachian writers who are showing the world the “real” Appalachian.  Showing the world that yes, stereotypes come from real places, but it is what you don’t understand about us that makes the difference, our dualities and triumphs.  That our experience though so specific is a universal experience.  You might be more familiar with us than you think.   We are proud to be Appalachian from the mountains where there are no malls or 100 places to have dinner out.  We are proud to be coal miners, chicken raisers, garden growers, banjo pickers, and quilters.  We are storytellers.

Why am I chosing writing?  Because I feel like it is the most important thing for me to be doing right now.  That through writing, I can wrap all my interests into one clean package.  Why am I chosing now?  Because now is all we have.  I want to be a mother who shows her children that the time to dream and work toward goals is always now.  Yes, I have limitations, but I can work a little everyday toward my goals.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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