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  • Rebekah James 3:07 pm on August 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: diabetes, , personal growth, , , ,   

    Breaking radio silence 

    So for the last three weeks, I have been pretty much in radio silence as far as blogging, or even interacting on the internet. This isn’t always my standard MO when I am upset about something, but in this case it has been my  approach for two reasons: First the issues involved are about my health, which is a sensitive topic at best for me, and the last thing I wanted was to be seen as whining – because no matter how big the issue seems to me, it is MY issue. (Apparently I was so good at this not whining bit that I left several friends out of the loop as to what was going on and inadvertently hurt some feelings with the unusual silence – and I am really and truly sorry for this as it was not my intention at all.)

    The second reason is more complex – until today, with results and diagnosis in hand, I had no idea what to DO about the health issues aside from wait for test results. Ask my husband – I am TERRIBLE at waiting around with nothing to do.  I am a get it done and move on kind of person.  I don’t mind doing the work, and while I am a big planner, I also try to keep things as fluid as possible as long as we aren’t just standing around waiting to make a decision on if something should be done or not.  Therefore, when my doctor wanted to do biopsies for cancer, I was all for getting out the scalpel right then and there.

    Now you would think I would know better really –having not only been down the cancer road before, but also having worked in hospitals for several years. Nothing happens that quickly in the medical world unless there is CPR involved, and even then, once they get you breathing again, there is going to be a delay. It takes time to set up the procedures, to run lab tests, for doctors to get results and interpret them, and then finally to get back to you about what is going on.  In this case, from the time that the Doctor looked at me and observed that the strange lump where it shouldn’t be was not only causing pain and general unhapppiness in my life, it was probably cancerous, to the day she finally gave me the results was about 5 weeks. Along the way, we got several others involved and drew enough blood to feed a vampire family of four for a week. We even found a couple of bonus problems I didn’t know about. I fussed and fidgeted and showed up 15 minutes early to fill out forms, and generally drove my husband and best friend bonkers trying not to obsess about the possibilities. I found that sitting down to write was nearly impossible – my focus was shot and I ended up just rewriting the same things repeatedly. Yesterday, we finally got around to the part where Doctor Q was able to tell me that while there are issues; cancer is not one of them anymore for which I am greatly relieved. There are issues, but now we have a diagnosis, we can start on taking action again. Unfortunately, these are not quick fix actions. The problem took years to build up and the treatment is one that will take two or three months to see results from. When I went to see my primary care doctor today, about the secondary issue we found, he said I was the first person who has ever responded “Oh, good” when he told them they have diabetes. Why is this good (aside from the whole not having cancer again thing)? Because diabetes has an action plan involved with it.  41 million people in the U.S. alone have Diabetes, and there is a lot of research that is happening every day. For me, there are new dietary rules to learn about, new things to pay attention to, and a whole long list of things that need doing now. Yes, it is a big, life-changing thing. I am more than a little intimidated by it, but I have my list in hand of things to do right now. (And amazingly enough, I came home and wrote another scene as well.)

    If I was more philosophical, or spiritually mature, I would no doubt find a lesson here about how pointless my desire to control things is, how fleeting and fickle the physical world is, and learned a great deal of patience from all of this. I am sad to admit – the relief I have at having something to do, shows I haven’t really gained any of that. I still don’t know what to do, but now I know what to research and can go into the next phase with focus. Tomorrow it will probably hit me just how big a change this is going to be, but today, I have a renewed word count and a to do list. I’m good.

    • Nancy Poehlmann 8:41 am on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Well done for coming back into the loop, Rebekah. I’m one of those “hide until I feel better” types, so I totally understand, but I’m trying to mold into a “sing out for help when I don’t feel good” type. My DH has Type II diabetes and my stepdaughter has Type I, so I know the diabetes road. It’s manageable, and will respond well to your wanting to take control.

      Very happy that the writing is coming again. I think it’s akin to the blood going to where it is needed; now that you have a plan, your mind can go back to the WIP.

      I hope you have a very good weekend!

      • Rebekah James 10:24 am on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Yes! that is exactly it Nancy! M kept asking me “why don’t you write to keep busy instead?” knowing that i really do get completely immersed – but it just doesn’t work that way for me. The plus side – when I let the WIP “Cool” for a while as my teacher used to say, I realized the fix to the thing I had been stuck on.

        • Nancy Poehlmann 8:02 pm on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

          Yeah, I have that happen, too. The problem simmers on the back burner, even when I’m worrying about something else or sleeping. Some people can get immersed–the rest of us just keep slogging along.

    • Rebekah James 12:10 am on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, I’m still trying to get back in sync with my life, but being able to sit down and actually focus on my WIP was a big thing today.

    • Girl Parker 7:57 pm on August 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Well done, Rebecca, for just getting through all this. If hunkering down is what it takes to deal with a possible cancer scare, then you DO IT. Forget word counts. But we’re all cheering for you that you’re able to move on now. Brava!

  • Rebekah James 10:15 am on July 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: personal growth, , , , ,   

    Plotting and Scheming 

    This has been a long week, so long in fact that I just realized I was in danger of not posting either of my updates for ROW80. A lot of what happened was boring busy work that just seemed to pile up and needed to be done all at once, so nothing exciting to report, but combined with a summer cold, it just makes the days go slowly.

    I am still “on track” for my projects, but I am not necessarily generating a large word count – one of the things I realized was that I didn’t really know my characters, and that since I didn’t know them well, the plot I had etched out for them, wasn’t working because I suddenly found that they all were acting quite predictably  and honestly I was getting a little bored with the story. If I am bored, that is a very bad sign because it means that anyone who reads it will be bored – and worse, I caught my MC whining.

    So this week has been about character development. I have been metaphorically sitting down for a cup of coffee and talking to them (Well the coffee wasnt metaphorical for me but you know what I mean.) It has been an interesting week. I asked them about where they grew up, how they got where they are now, pulled pictures off the internet for them and even talked about favorite foods.  I’m probably scaring the neighbors since this means I have been spending a lot of time walking around talking to myself, but I now feel that I know them better and I can only think that will translate to a better story. Of course this also means that I have spent some time reworking the plot a bit too.

    Plotting always seems to be the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. I know people who are adamant that plotting is evil and that it ruins their creativity, and a first draft is all about making your mistakes. That may be true for some people, but as Terry Brooks, says in his book on writing Sometimes the Magic Works you will either solve the problems now or later because you will have to solve them eventually.  The question for me is never IF I need to plot, but rather HOW.

    Some people use index cards, others use sticky notes. I have a very large sheet of glass in my  office that I scribble all over with dry erase pens, but I am always looking for better ways to work things out. Do you do a synopsis of the story first like Margaret Weiss does for her books, or do you take a very long view and map out the major events in all 20 books in your series like Jim Butcher says he has for the Harry Dresden series?  I read an article yesterday that J.K. Rowling wrote scenes from all seven of the Harry Potter books before she  even really started on the first one, and then went back and built the plots for all of them.  Are you putting every scene on index cards and rearranging them? Do you use bullet points or maybe an excel sheet?  Do you develop your characters back stories first and let that determine your plot, or do you come up with the scenes first and then let them tell you from there?  How do YOU plot?



  • Rebekah James 2:07 pm on June 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , personal growth,   

    Site relaunch 

    As you may have noticed, I have been undergoing some changes here.  Many of the original blogs have been reposted, but this has been rebuilt from the original blog. Yes, I know right now it is mostly book reviews – that is what I have the most of sitting around, but dont worry – there are definitely more travel stories, and other postings coming soon!

  • Rebekah James 8:00 am on May 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Memorial Day, , personal growth, , Veterans, World War I, WW1   

    Origins of Memorial Day – by Mike James 


    It’s the 3 day weekend that officially kicks off the summer season!  A time for hanging at the beach, Bar-b-que, even catching a few laps of the Indy 500.  But Memorial Day is also the most solemn American holiday.  A day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending their nation.


    The Civil war, America’s bloodiest chapter, with over 600,000 soldiers killed in action.  Almost every community in every state suffered the loss of young men. As the war came to an end, mourners in both northern and southern states began placing flags and flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers.  The town of Waterloo New York is credited with officially starting the holiday.  On May 5th, 1866, its citizens closed their shops and businesses so that everyone could decorate the graves of everyone killed during the war.  Then an old war general had an idea…..


    John A Logan was the leader of the Union Veteran Association.  He spearheaded an effort to unite all the decoration services into 1 national holiday, designating May 30th as Decoration Day.  On the first National Decoration Day in 1868, 5,000 war widows, orphans and other mourners gathered at Arlington National Cemetery.  They placed flowers and ribbons on the 20,000 graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.  Two future presidents and fellow Union veterans, Ulysses S. Grant and James A. Garfield, attended the ceremony.


    Throughout the 19th century, Decoration Day grew.  Ceremonies were held on civil war battlefields like Gettysburg Pennsylvania and Antietam Field in Maryland.  By the end of the century, the holiday was renamed Memorial Day.  But war wounds ran deep, most southern states refused to commemorate a holiday they regarded as honoring Union soldiers, so each state commemorated their war dead with different Confederate Decoration Days.  Some states continue this tradition to this day.


    World War 1 ushered in the art of modern warfare.  America lost over 130,000 soldiers in the global conflict.  This shared experience finally bonded Americas north and south.   When the war ended, May 30th became a day to honor ALL American soldiers who died in battle as far back as the revolutionary war.


    America interred its first unknown soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Armistice day 1921.  Every Memorial Day, this soldier and other unknown soldiers are honored with a wreath laying ceremony conducted by the President or Vice President.  They are reminders of all those who never made it home.


    Memorial became a federal holiday in 1971 and congress shifted it from May 30th to the 4th Monday in May, giving Federal workers a 3 day weekend.


    All across America, civilians and Veterans still gather in parades and vigils to remember the generations who gave their lives for their nation’s freedom.


  • Rebekah James 12:10 pm on February 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: garden, , personal growth   

    Spring buds 

    About this time of year, I start to get antsy for spring.  It is tempting here in Texas.  We have passed the worst of our winter weather and often, as we are now, are rewarded with a spurt of warm weather as if the region just doesn’t have the energy for maintaining the cold.  I am always frustrated that the regional nurseries seem to be linked to the weather cycle in colder regions, and while my yard is budding with new leaves, most of the nurseries are going to be buttoned up in “winter” mode until April.  Oh yes, I know, we are expected to have one more spurt of cold before the end of March – but having lived in much colder regions, I know that what passes for the last of the winter weather here, is by and large, mild enough that tender spring plants can be easily protected.  For most of my garden, the threat of another frost is irrelevant – it is 70 degrees in my garden now, and I cannot stop the buds and flush of new green from appearing even if I wanted to.  To make me even more antsy there are a handful of spring festivals that occur now – Imbloc, Tu b’Shevat are encouraging me to plant trees and generally have a spring frolic.

    I often find myself comparing my own life to my garden. In the fall, I anxiously watch the weather and spend hours carefully transferring my precious potted babies into the shelter of the garage and coddle them with fluorescent lights and space heaters, holding out hope that the plants billed as annuals will indeed make it through the winter and be ready to rebloom in the spring for me.  I know that the marigolds are going to die regardless. The Basil that is so lovely now, will indeed die down to pathetic sticks and that there is no hope for the tomato and pepper plants no matter how wonderfully they are still producing in October.  I fight for the lost causes even when I know I am going to lose. I just can’t let things go.  Inevitably, when I discover in early December that the marigolds have indeed died, I am always somehow surprised, just as I am surprised when the realization hits me that something else I have kept past its time – a project that isn’t going to work, or a friendship that was based on the fragile conditions of work or place – has died.

    I realized something this year about both my garden and myself.  Finding myself faced with the usual slew of dead pots, I found myself not focusing on what was, and what I had lost of the glorious summer garden, but instead saw the delicate beauty of the winter garden. The sculpted twists of the mini trees I have planted, waiting for the warmth of the sun to awaken them. The complex patterns of the roses against the walls, and the first lanky tops of the tulips pushing their way out from the mulch they were covered in all winter.  Yes there are dead branches and leaves that need to be cleared away, but the structure is still there, and those marigolds that died left seeds in their wake that will reawaken.  Seeds are in the rest of my life as well. Goals not met, dreams that were thwarted or changed – even the possibility that we may have to move this year  from the apartment with the garden I love so much – there are still the seeds of new things lying among the dead leaves in the rest of my life as well.  Perhaps I have finally reached the point where I have established enough of the underlying structures in both my garden, and the rest of my life that instead of  fighting the winter, I can simply flow with the seasons like the trees and when it freezes, protect my roots instead of mourning the flowers.

    • Shethra Jones-Hoopes 9:31 pm on March 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      My friend Maria said something remarkable the other day, that the emerging fresh shoots were “spring asking permission to come in.” Sometimes, I think, things in life work that way, too.

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