While summer season was ending, Whitewater Lake put on a lovely Midwest display.
While summer season was ending, Whitewater Lake put on a lovely Midwest display.
I am back in the saddle, literally. And damn, it feels great.
It’s been a couple years since I rode horses regularly. Work, family, my health, finances—ahh, life– all contributed to keeping me out of the barn.
But, I woke too many mornings during this no-horse phase, wishing I was riding. And I kept practicing my two-point position on my bike. Clearly, I wasn’t through with a hobby (an addiction?) I had practiced most of my adult life.
Why is it that some girls never outgrow their love-of-horses-phase-of-life?
After 4 lessons in two weeks, I am in. 100%.
Barn basics quickly came back: brushing, tacking, mounting, handling, riding (walk-trot-canter-low jumps) and yes, a little nerves. As my trainer J says, the muscle memory was still there. And in each lesson, that memory and confidence was a bit stronger. I certainly couldn’t pick up a brand new sport this quickly.
After several visits, I realize it is more than the horses, the lift I get from riding that brought me back. I think I also relished going back to a familiar place for the mental memories I have of the barn, the people, the friends I have made. I feel welcome, like it’s been days since I have been there, not a year.
Resuming riding is also a short reminder of cliché’s—life is short, time goes fast, etc etc.
If there is something you love to do, DO IT. If you want to try something new, make the time now for yourself, your interests, yourself. The joy it might bring is worth it.
The journey continues.
My last post was about why I love my book club. Since people have asked us about how to set up/run/host a book club, know that there are many options to create a club that works for you. Some groups are very organized and intense, and some (like ours) are a bit less formal in pre-planning and execution.
Here are some ideas to think about, when setting up your own group:
Now, gather some people, then start reading. And talking.
To answer the most frequently asked question first—Yes, we discuss the books in our monthly meetings! We do not just drink wine.
I am honored to have been part of our book club since its inception in 2003! Our first book was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, shortly before it was debunked as a fraudulent biography. Ironically, there was a lot of discussion at our initial meeting about which parts of that book seemed fake (and later, how easy it should have been for Oprah’s team to research the story before catapulting it to stardom).
In 14 years, we have welcomed new friends to our group, had our dear friend Janaki move, seen births, deaths, kids grow through school and beyond, job changes, and illnesses. I personally have enjoyed books and genres I never would have chosen and found some authors I now covet—Lianne Moriarity, Fredrik Backman, Kristin Hannah. In our discussions and debates, I still learn about my friends’ histories, dreams, passions, losses.
My friend Theresa, who launched our book club, says that she is very proud of our club’s longevity as a no judgment book club. If you only read the back page but want to listen to the discussion….come on in. Only read one book a year and come only twice a year…we will be happy to see you. Listen on Audible at double-time speed…more credit to you.
People often ask me for reading suggestions. This can be a baited question, since there are so many types of books. Do you like novels, chick lit, romance, biographies, non-fiction, science fiction, history? If for a book club, will you read recently released books? Or only ones that are available at the local library?
For several book ideas now, here is the list of books that our book club read in 2016, and the start of 2017, in the order that we read them:
Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello
Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith
The Wedding Pearl by Carolyn Brown
Before the Fall by Noah Hawle
My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
11/22/63 by Stephen King
My personal favorites from this list were My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry, A Man Called Ove,11/22/63, and Whiskey & Charlie.
If you want to start a book club, it just takes a little time and a few friends. There are many options to best set up and run your club, choose your books,etc. My next post will address these topics.
Reading. Friends. Cocktails. Discussion. Learning. Debate. Snacks. Laughter. Maybe One.More.Drink.
I so look forward to my monthly neighborhood book club meetings. While our families joke that we do not actually discuss our varied selections, we do! The amount we talk about the book may be proportionate to how relatable (or debatable) the book is, whether there is a difference of opinion about the quality of the characters-plot-writing, and if the host has good discussion questions.
Through others reading choices I have discovered authors and books I never would have picked up, lived vicariously through a variety of eras and locations, expanded my life views, made new friends, and become a better writer.
Sometimes we even have homework assignments.
For our last book club we were asked to bring our bucket list of 5 things we wanted to do, typed and unsigned. We then tried to guess who wrote out each sheet. (this “homework” went along with our discussion, nameless but light romantic fluff).
It was eye-opening to see how similar some of the items were on our lists: a lot of travel, learning new skills like writing and knitting, re-learning old hobbies, more travel, and spending more time with our families.
We will continue to share, learn, cry, discuss life in each meeting. Hopefully grow individually and as a group. And prop each other up outside our ongoing gatherings.
And my bucket list, in case you are interested:
What is on your list? (bucket or reading)
This past weekend my goal was to do at least one fun, unexpected thing each day. Mission accomplished. It is too easy to fill free hours with errands, busywork, chores. Recent life events made me realize that I need to grab a hold of my time when I can, not let my life slip away. Some weekends are scheduled from start to finish, some productive, but hopefully there is some time to explore, enjoy.
I spent an evening socializing with friends, saw Bad Moms with a neighbor (very funny, from someone who endured the PTO Primadonnas), gardened, walked my dogs, went out to eat.
One of the highlights was biking in the Lake County Forest Preserve. It was a gorgeous morning and so reminded me of my childhood. Eight friends on bikes, riding for miles while laughing, reminiscing, planning, joking, only one getting lost for a brief few minutes. No real schedule, no set plans, other than to enjoy our morning, leaving all responsibilities behind.
And the weekend is upon us again. So I shall set the same goal—do one spontaneous thing each day. Try it. And let me know what new experiences you have!
Who Shows Up? and when? It is easy to show support during joyous times. It can be far more stressful –and sometimes uncomfortable–to be available in times of crisis, confusion, or death. There are some people who you expect to Show Up during those latter times; others shock you when they reach out. Those few especially make you glance outward from your grief, realizing that circle of people you hold close is wider than you think.
It’s been a month since my dad passed away. I am still amazed at who I have heard from—and who has remained invisible– the last difficult months. Every word and action has truly made an impact on me: a short text or phone call, stacks of cards (some from people I didn’t even know were aware my dad was gone), delivering food for us, sending flowers, reaching out a hand or hug, giving a gift card for a meal, driving people to the airport, sharing some wine, a kind word, an impactful memory, traveling to see us.
There have been foggy days and sleepless nights, my brain running in the opposite direction from where my focus needs to be. So those gestures can jolt me back to today, now.
It is okay to feel uncomfortable when acknowledging your sentiments to me. Stumble, if you need to. You may be articulating your feelings for the first time, while I have been addressing mine for many, many hours already. Whether you express yourself with grace, anger, grief, humor, surprise, tears, hope or couched in your own experiences of someone close to you dying, it means so much when people share.
So Just. Show. Up. I know I will be more conscious of Being There in the future, during those times of mourning. Sadly, I can relate.