Motivated by Fear…

scan0079 I’m eager to get started again working on the book about my mother’s life, which is at the halfway point to completion of the first draft. I’d like to say my motivation is because I just can’t wait to get back to work on this interesting project, but that’s not my primary motivation. I’m motivated by the fear that if I don’t complete this now, I may procrastinate until something interferes one day and I’m unable to complete it at all, and I would deeply regret that.

In settling in after moving I’ve had occasion to go through some of the very old family photos again. It occurs to me that my sister and I are likely the last people to care about most of this very large collection of photographs, and we are both 60+ now. I’m not expecting we’ll pass on anytime soon, but it bothers me to think that these interesting people and their lives will be forgotten forever one of these days.

It’s not that they’ve done anything particularly extraordinary; there are no explorers or research scientists or inventors in the group. They are likely, for the most part, pretty average. But I’ve heard many of their stories for most of my life from my mother and grandmother and always found them intensely intriguing.

Like many as we’ve gotten older, I became very interested in genealogy in my 40s.  I know more about some branches of the family than others, thanks mainly due to research done by others. I know about the Moomaws, for example, back to when they first came to this country from Germany, via the Netherlands, in the 1700’s, and can trace any Moomaw back to the original 3 progenitors who arrived here. I know some about my mother’s ancestry, particularly on her father’s side, but very little about the family history of either of my grandmothers, though I hope to learn more over time.

There used to be a segment on CBS News called “Everybody Has a Story” and host Steve Hartman would throw a dart at a map of the U.S. and wherever it landed, he and a cameraman would visit the town, pick a name at random out of the phone book, and interview them, getting their story. It was always interesting, because we are ALL interesting. So many stories, some that will be remembered, but the vast majority forgotten, which is a shame, yet it happens every day. Even if we learn as much as we can and try to hold onto the stories, they will eventually inevitably fall into obscurity.

I think the best we can do is learn as much as we can about our family’s stories and let them enrich our lives, our understanding and our experience. We can learn from them and pass them on to the next generation. I have no illusions that the book about my mother will become a bestseller and in truth it will likely have a very limited readership, but if her story is interesting and life-enhancing to even a few people, it will have been worth writing. Understanding her motivations and those of my grandmother because of what they endured helps me understand my own life so much better.

As I’ve said in the past, ask your family about their stories while you can; don’t let your history slip away.

The Monday Post, Vol. 49 — Last Monday Post

I’ve had a feeling for awhile now that this blog, in its present form, has pretty much outlived its usefulness. The past few years have been a running history of my ideas of wanting to relocate from Florida, deciding on the Pacific Northwest, making plans to move here, moving here, getting acclimated to the area, and finally my move to living on my own. “Patricia in PDX” was all right when I first moved here, during the “honeymoon phase” of my new location, but that time is long since past. Okay, so she lives in Portland! Old news! Can we move on, please?

Also, since my recent move, I’m reviving some other activities and adding new ones, and I’m not sure I want to be tied to a weekly blog any longer. “The Monday Post” was for 2013 a continuation of my “Project 52″ blog entry challenge in 2012; I’d gotten used to writing a blog entry every week and wasn’t yet ready to give it up, but I feel I am now.

I acquired a large influx of new followers with my post about my grandmother in August of 2012, and additional “followers” who don’t really read my blog, but were hoping by following mine that I’d follow theirs. Some of my followers are Facebook friends who occasionally comment on my posts there, but with Facebook becoming ever more restrictive as to who sees what posts from whom, I’m getting much less readership than before, so it often feels like I’m writing to myself, which I can do in a private blog. Or I could just talk to myself.

However, I like having a blog; I like having someplace online to share thoughts, ideas, photos and the like when I feel I have something worth sharing, someplace that isn’t just Facebook or Twitter. I am not sure yet whether I will revamp this blog and go in a different direction with it, start a different WordPress blog or start something on a different site altogether, like Tumblr. We’ll see.

Regardless, if I’m not going to continue here, I will post a link to the new site. I thank you for your readership and occasional comments and encouragement. It’s been grand…

The Monday Post, Vol. 47 — Living Small!

As I’ve alluded to in the past, I’ve been interested in “living small” for some time, following “tiny house” blogs, small apartment blogs and also a great blog on all aspects of streamlined living, Be More with Less. The author, Courtney Carver, and her husband and dog, downsized from a 2000 sq. ft. house to a 750 sq. ft. apartment, and has written several books on living “large” by living “small.” I take a great deal of inspiration from her excellent blog and books!

As some know, I recently downsized from a 1000 sq. ft. apartment to a 425 sq. ft. studio. In preparing for this move, I jettisoned what I felt were unnecessary belongings and donated most of my furniture, including a large futon, a dining room set, large TV and desk. When I felt I had only what I needed with me, I was still dismayed at the number of boxes I’d packed and was afraid I wouldn’t have enough storage space for everything.

When I arrived at my new studio and began unpacking, I worried again about storage space. Kitchen cabinet space was at a premium, and I wondered if I’d need to buy a pantry storage cabinet. However, I needn’t have worried. Now that I’ve unpacked everything, with a little creativity there’s plenty of room for everything and I won’t need that extra pantry after all.

And I actually have more open space than I was expecting! So in the coming months I plan to create a “living room” area with a storage-added loveseat from Home Reserve, with a small bookcase placed in back of it in my “bedroom” area with a chair and lamp, creating a reading nook.  I have lots of wall open space currently, but I plan to hang stretched-fabric pictures and also, since I have all the family photos, an arrangement of framed photos of my grandparents, great-grandparents and other close family members.

Of course, living in a small space discourages clutter, and is a snap to clean, so that’s a great benefit for someone like me who is not naturally neat and dislikes housework. That leaves time for the other, more important aspects of life!

So living small means living large!

The Monday Post, Vol. 46 — Settling In!

Moving is something I’ve done more than three dozen times in my life (including local moves), but it’s not my favorite activity by far, and this time was no exception. Everything started out well organized, but as we got closer to the actual moving day I stopped marking boxes and began putting items anywhere they would fit and throwing more things away than I expected to. It was also a physically exhausting move because of so many trips up and down stairs and out a fair distance to the borrowed car and back, catch-as-catch-can meals for a few days and lack of sleep the last few nights before moving day.

However, the movers showed up bright and early on moving day and loaded and unloaded everything with amazing speed and efficiency. In no time at all I was standing in my new apartment, surrounded by boxes waiting to be opened, and I hardly knew where to start.

Progress was slow, but two things had to be accomplished if nothing else got done, and that was feeding the dogs and setting up my computer. Later that afternoon I decided to lie down “just for a minute” and when I woke up it was dark. I got up and ate and put a few more things away and fell back into bed until the next morning.

I made more progress then, and today unpacked the final box. The apartment will be a work in progress for some time, however; there will be a bit more furniture later on, but I don’t want to fill the empty spaces with just anything right off the bat, or cover the walls with less-than-thoughtful picture arrangements.

On Friday I went out to run errands and do a bit of exploring of my new neighborhood. I learned quickly that driving was not the most efficient way to get around, that on-street parking was the most prevalent type, and that the streets were narrower and shorter than they looked on Google Maps street view. Although I’m still in Portland, the east side feels so different from the west. Streets are straight, neighborhoods compact, so many people walking everywhere, many with dogs, cyclists tooling by. Although the streets were busy at midday, no one seemed in a great hurry and everyone seemed to have time to smile and exchange pleasantries and bits of conversation.

On my way home, I had a bit more time left on the Zipcar and decided to take a drive farther east to see where a particular farmer’s market was located. Over a steep rise and starting down the other side, I was suddenly rewarded with a spectacular view of Mount Hood, and I looked frantically for a place to pull over and stop to gaze at it awhile, but could find none; I’ll be back to that location soon, however.

So I’m settling in and it’s great to be here!

The Monday Post, Vol. 44 — Storytelling…

Some past thoughts from early 2009:

The actor/director Ron Howard and I are very close in age; in fact, he is exactly 3 months younger than I am. So in watching him on TV at any given time I can accurately guess how old I was and what I was doing at that time. When he started in movies, I was playing with Tinkertoys and hadn’t yet entered kindergarten. When he began starring as “Opie” on The Andy Griffith Show, I was in the first grade and having the measles. When “American Graffiti” was first shown, I was still a new (and way too young) bride who had just arrived the day before in a new town with my Navy husband. When “Happy Days” first aired, I was happy too, for the most part, but pondering my choice of a future career, as I’d rather railroaded my first choice at that time (to become an art teacher) by marrying too soon. I can also recall what I was doing when each of his directorial efforts was released, but you get my point.

I recently watched the TCM documentary, “Ron Howard: 50 Years In Film,” so he’s been on my mind as of late. To me, he has the best job of all: to tell stories on film according to his vision, with the money and clout to make the finest and most enduring films he can. Storytelling is what it’s all about.

After the documentary, there was the short subject that replays from time to time, taking us rapidly through 100 years of filmmaking, 100 years of storytelling. This short subject always makes me misty-eyed, because the stories told in these films, as a body of work, so completely describe the human condition, reflecting so clearly who we are, and showing what we contribute that most enhances the world we live in: our stories.

Storytelling HereWithout storytelling, we couldn’t live. We could exist, but only as shells of ourselves. We write stories every day: when we come home and relate what happened during the day to our families, we’re writing. When we talk on the phone with a friend and describe who we saw and where and when, we’re writing. When we persuade someone to go out on a date, convince the boss we need a raise, coax a child to eat Brussels sprouts, reason with a creditor over a past due payment, sell a car, urge a friend, counsel a teen — we’re writing stories.

This is what I love about blogging. When we share stories, we enhance each others’ lives. And I share some of the stories I read with my daughter and sister and friends, who relate those stories to others, and on and on it goes. Lives are enhanced by a laugh or a bit of wisdom because someone took the time to post a blog entry.

We are our stories; resolve to increasingly share more of yours!