Hi. Grandma Trisha here. I’m just back from visiting grand kids in Oregon and still full of the big, soft heart I felt every time I got called “Grandma”. Cuz that’s who I am now. I’m even growing out my grey silver hair, but then there’s always that problem with different colored roots:
Oh wait, that’s grass that grew from seed under a pipe. That’s why it’s white at the base.
Here’s my hair:
Seems to me that I can either fight my advancing age, or celebrate this new phase of life that Jim and I have entered, somewhere around our 70th birthday last fall. I’m choosing celebration.
Here’s the good news for those of us who just turned 70: We’re still alive. As a biologist (and a recent reader of the obituaries page), I’d like to note that that’s a great accomplishment. Here’s the bad news: The years we have left to live our life as we do now are limited. Very limited. How many years can Jim and I walk up and down the steep hill behind our house? Catch and hold sheep when they need worming? Walk the dogs through snow and ice in the woods? Ten years, til we are 80? Holy god, 10 years doesn’t sound very long now, does it? But wait, there’s more good news: Facing a limited future is liberating. If we don’t do the things we’ve always wanted to do now, when will we do them?
In spite of feeling stunned by a deeper acknowledgement of my mortality (not to mention all the physical signs of aging–good grief), I also feel a sense of lightness. Wheeeee! What if I spent less time working and more time playing with my own dogs? What if I spent less time traveling and more time gardening, cooking, and seeing friends? And what if. . . wait for it . . . I tried my hand at writing fiction?
That’s what I wanted to do over 10 years ago, when I called my agent and an editor at a big publishing house and threw out the idea of writing fiction. They both strongly suggested that I reconsider. “Oh, Trisha, the fiction market is so competitive. It’s simply impossible to get into.” “Why don’t you write a memoir?” said my editor friend. “No, I have no interest in that,” I said. Yeah, I know–a strange start to writing The Education of Will.
But now, at this age, who cares if a publisher wants to take my stories or not? I’m going to try, fully aware that writing fiction is HARD (yeah, I’m sort of yelling). Really it is. But I’m going to start playing with it, and who knows what will come out of it.
Of course, this means I’m going to do less of other things. You’ve no doubt noticed that I’ve slowed down already in some ways. Not doing any more seminars (last one is on February 1st at Oakland University outside of Detroit, but note I’m speaking in the morning, not the afternoon). Not seeing clients. Much quieter on Facebook and Twitter. The fact is that I needed a break, after giving about 45 speeches about sexual assault and the effects of trauma in people and dogs since my book came out. It was an honor to do so, and I don’t say that lightly. I will forever be grateful to the thousands people who listened with open hearts, and who had the courage to tell me how much The Education of Will meant to them personally.
But there is a cost to talking about one’s own traumas, and the process of healing from them. So forgive me my moment of refreshment, but if you will, continue with me on my journey into this different phase of life. The one thing I haven’t wanted to give up is this blog–it’s the professional community to which I feel the strongest of ties. And I love doing podcasts (talking to fascinating people from my own desk, no travel, bad hair… what’s not to like?) and speaking at libraries and smaller groups. That will start up again in late summer.
I’d love to tell you a little about the fiction book that I’m thinking of writing, but writers wiser than I have advised me to hold my story close to my heart until it is more fully formed. I’ll just say this: I think you’ll like the plot, if I can learn enough to write it well enough. And, of course, there will be dogs. I know, I’m teasing you. Sorry.
Here’s the newly remodeled study in which I’ll be writing. Cozy, and expansive at the same time. My desk is on the right, Jim’s is on the left out of the picture.
And here’s my 2019 “Not-Resolutions” (since no one keeps resolutions):
*** Dedicate a few hours three times a week to fiction writing. I’ll try this for 3 months and see how it’s going.
*** On Friday mornings, write some letters and postcards to friends and family. Don’t you love getting real mail?
*** Keep up with Maggie’s PT exercises every week. (More on this later; I just made big decision not to do arthroscopic surgery on her. I’ll write more about this sometime this month, because I think so many of us are or have had to deal with difficult decisions regarding the medical care of our dogs.)
*** Take as much time as I need to stay strong and healthy as I can be.
What about you? Any “non-resolutions” or hopes for 2019?
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Just back from being Grandma to two amazing grandchildren, Taylor (11) and Quinne (4). Played Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders. Saw Mary Poppins (loved it, tho’ terrible beginning–just ignore it and be patient). Went riding with Taylor on a retired dressage horse, Lottie, thanks to patient and generous mom, Rachel. My legs were sore for a week, but it was worth that and so much more.
Ate steak and Dungeness crab for New Year’s dinner thanks to step-son Shane. Yum.
But now it’s back to reality, in which I need to lose the 5 pounds I’ve gained over the holidays, get back into all my exercise routines, jump back into work and being a committed, active citizen and crazy-in-love-with-my-dogs animal behaviorist. I’m ready.
We came home to a lovely bit of snow:
But now it’s raining and beyond yucky outside. I’ll spare you the photos of mud. But here’s another one of the BCs the morning after we got home. I think they like snow as much as I do.
Looking forward to hearing what you are anticipating in 2019!