Posted in Writing101

Instant Granny

Family planning. Your partner is your soul mate and best friend. Your children successfully glide through their studies and find a great job. Then straight into grandchildren. Yeah, right. When you’re young, you think starting a family is something you plan. Something you can carefully control. Well, those plans don’t always work out the way we hope or want.

The first time I was thinking about starting a family, I was engaged. It was a magical and exciting time. Young love, total faith and… blissfully blind to signs that were clear to all but me. Apparently an engagement is not always enough reason to be faithful. So when my dream was shattered into a million shiny and sharp pieces – slicing my heart in two – my plans for family-making were put on hold. Dumped in the freezer, stuck in time.

But the cold was soothing, and after a while my heart mended and I did get married. My college friend Suzan and I had once struck a deal: we would start a soccer team together and both have four children. They would be so talented, that only eight were enough for the team. She held her part of the bargain and had three sons and one daughter. I, on the other hand, had to stop after two: my body didn’t agree with my family plans. Plus my sons didn’t care for soccer. 😉 But a family it was.

A divorce and two partners later, again I wonder about my family. What happened to family planning? My eldest son is still at home, but my youngest broke off his education and left the nest to live with his girlfriend. But he did go straight into grandchildren. No engagement or marriage: with his lady, he also got two ready-made children.

So all of a sudden I’m an instant granny. From mother to grandmother in the blink of an eye. I don’t need to change diapers or babysit. England is a bit too far to do that on regular basis, and the kids are already potty trained at the age of nine and six. Family planning, yep.

But you know what? I really don’t care that my life is not going the way I originally planned. Each new experience has made my life richer, stronger. And my sons are happy as they are. They have enough faith to make their own choices in life. And that’s what is most important.

Instant Granny… *shakes her head and wonders*

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Writing101badgeI wrote this for Writing 101: Unlock the Mind. These prompts do seem to work well, for I had no idea what would flow from my fingers. The assignment: To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write. And I did.

Posted in Personal

Internet Hug

Thank you. I really mean it. Thank YOU! For taking the time to read my posts and look at my pictures. For liking and commenting. For dropping in and leaving beautiful footprints. You bring joy into my life, smiles and sometimes tears. But always warmth and gentleness. So again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Come here for a huge hug.

~ Marion

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Posted in Books, Border hopping, Guest writers, Inspiration, Writing

A Book, Dancing Across The Ocean

Christine M Grote. I met her last year. Out there, in Blogging Land, and I have been following her Random Thoughts From Midlife ever since.

I have opinions about many things, but am trying to age gracefully and not continually tick people off with them. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

I write about what is on my mind when I wake in the morning unless my mind is blank in which case I ruffle through my digital photos and slap one up.

Her posts are gentle, insightful and full of humor, writing about nature, animals, her parents and other people, genealogy, the places she visits. And about little Arthur. Her wildlife photos are stunning, some are made in her own back yard (foxes, birds, deer).

Christine wrote a book about her sister Annie, who was was permanently and severely disabled at birth, called Dancing in Heaven.

My sister Annie never outgrew the needs of an infant. She didn’t walk or talk. Our parents fed her, changed her clothes, and lifted her from her bed to her wheelchair and back  for her entire life. Although the doctors who initially diagnosed her predicted she’d have a life expectancy of eight years, Annie lived to be fifty-one years old.

Dancing in Heaven is an inspirational story about Annie’s life, death, and her significance in the lives of those of us who loved her and others who were touched by her. This memoir provides a window into my family’ s life with a severely disabled member. But more importantly, Dancing in Heaven is a testimony to the basic intrinsic value of human life.

The love Christine has for her sister is present in every word, and those words reach out to others, to me. So when Christine asked me if I wanted to receive a copy of Dancing in Heaven, I was delighted. She wrote about what happened next in the humorous post Dancing in Heaven dances across the ocean. Dancing in Heaven needs to be read – to be heard – throughout the world. And its first journey across the ocean will end in the tiny Netherlands. Awesome!

So now I’m in my hallway, keeping an eye on the front door. Waiting for Dancing in Heaven to land in my hands.

Posted in Personal, Writing

Featured in ‘Monday Joy’

 Today a bonus post. Because today is special. It was made special by Paula Tohline Calhoun, a great and imaginative writer I have been following for the last few months. You see, Paula has featured both my blogs Figments of a Dutchess (English) and Doldriest (Dutch) in her post

Monday Joy

And I am so very honored and happy by that. In fact, I am bouncing in my chair.

Paula Calhoun:

I love life, and treasure it each day, because I have come so very close to losing it, more times than I can count! That’s not to say that I don’t get grumpy, so I’ve chosen this smiling Australian turtle photo to remind me when I need to remember just how wonderful life is!

I strive to improve in all aspectsof my life. Some days I’m more successful than others, in much the same way as my blog says, “some days are cloudier than others.” I live and love by the Grace of God. My wish, my prayer for everyone is enough. . .

Thank you, dear Paula. And you are right: Enough. Enough is perfect. For everyone.

Want to read more of Paula Calhoun?

~Marion

Posted in Books, Inspiration, Personal, Writing

The Book That Changed My Life

There is really only one answer to the question ‘Name a book that changed your life’:

The Lord Of The Rings by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

Back in 1981 I found three weird looking pockets on a flea market. Nothing special really; the cover art wasn’t exactly thrilling, quite the opposite! Here, take a look at “IN DE BAN VAN DE RING”.

It was my first year at university. I was staying over at my boyfriend’s house because I had an internship in a neighboring village and he lived closer by than I did. Meanwhile I was in the middle of moving to another, better student room.

In that crazy busy week, in between my internship, riding back and forth from one student room to the other, packing and transporting by bike, I took up the first part “De Reisgenoten” (The Fellowship). For eighty pages I wondered what the heck it was all about, used as I was to literature from high school. But after those first pages time slowed and finally stood still.

I read on ’till deep in the night, only to start reading again at first light. This story, so full of imagination and fantasy, so vibrant and alive, adventurous and breathtaking, was unlike anything I had ever seen. I read and read, and when the final page of “The Return Of The King” had been turned, I took a deep breath and finally landed back on earth. This earth, not Middle Earth. I went out and bought The Hobbit. Only to start over again. And it never ever stopped after that. I had found a piece of myself in High Fantasy Land.

Soon I changed to English, because it is my belief that one should read a book in the language it is written in. If possible of course! Translating for example “Silverbeard” to “Zilverbaard”, “Bree” to “De Stee”, it just sounds less real, less exciting. Reading English, at first with two dictionaries at my side, became easier with every book. It prepared me for writing in English, expanding my vocabulary and showing me syntax and grammar.

And I’m always open for suggestions and corrections, so please do not hesitate if you see me writing something incorrect repeatedly. Thank you!

After “The Lord Of The Rings” many other fantasy books followed. “Wizard’s First Rule” and the rest of The Sword Of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is a close second. His creation Gratch the short-tailed gar has stolen my heart. Three quarters of my huge bookcase is filled with fantasy.

And when my back gave up on me, fantasy offered me an escape window into another world where the loss of an active life and sports was less painful. Far worse was done by Sauron than my hernia could ever do. I started writing at a fantasy forum, called The One Ring, where I found new friends, both online and face-to-face in Holland. Which also lead me to gaming. Which lead to even more international friends.

But most of all, John Tolkien with “The Lord Of The Rings” freed my imagination and fantasy. Daring me to explore new horizons, steering my whole life into a new direction. I owe him my books, my friends, my writing, my blogging. In a way, I owe him a big part of my life. And he will always have my everlasting gratitude and respect for that.

~Mar

Posted in Stories

When the muse hit me… ever so gently

Day 14 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge: What made you decide to start a blog?

In 2000 a severe intervertebral hernia cut its way into my life. And when I say cut, I mean CUT. The little bastard attacked me in the middle of a karate championship. It came, dressed as a lightning bold straight through my body into my left leg and foot. Which went numb. My back was on fire though. And it never left, ever, not a single day. At that moment, I had absolutely NO idea what hit me and, more importantly, what great impact this would have on my life. I simply finished the match, more or less, and hobbled back to the sideline.

For three months I sat. I couldn’t walk – each step sent two knives straight into my spine. I couldn’t lay down straight, which meant no more sleeping on my belly. And my patience sank beneath sea level. Up until that day, I used to go to karate training three times a week, I loved horseback riding and played tennis. And there I was, in a couch prison. The good news is, that this couch prison was the secret hiding place of my muse! And she hit me… ever so gently. After all I was a trained karateka 😉 My muse told me to wake up and look deep into myself. To feel what was inside of me and bring it out in the open.

Madly missing the social interaction of work and sports, I went online. Guided by my little muse, I soon found The One Ring forum – it was the time when the Lord of the Rings movies were immensely popular. This place, these people, have saved my soul and prevented insanity from hitting as hard as the hernia. I started writing. And writing. Took part in a role playing story, which brought out the best in everyone. A truly magical time which lasted for years.

Meanwhile I crawled back up and went back to work. The hernia happened ten years ago and as long as I sit down and take it easy, my back is behaving. But the minute – and I mean MINUTE – I have to stand or stroll, it will whistle me back into submission real quick. Last year we traveled to New York and I had a great time, but half of the time I could cry with pain when we ventured into the city on foot. Of course I didn’t! Stupid back!

I still visit The One Ring Forum, though not as frequently as I used to. In stead I started my own blogs (I write in English and in Dutch) and it feels like I finally came home. Writing, writing is what my life is about. And living it of course, else there wouldn’t be much to write about. Stories canter through my brain, whenever something happens my fingers start to itch. And these stories I love to share with you all. Please stay with me 🙂

Posted in Stories

Expression

Day 3 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge:

What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?

The year 2010 was a marvelous one for my personal development.  The urge to do ‘something’ with my writing grew ever stronger. For years I had been participating in The One Ring forum – J.R.R. Tolkien-related – as ‘drieske’. And then in February I finally took things into my own hands and actually did something about my dream, in stead of only dreaming about it.

Soon my website was a fact, where I could gather all the stuff I had written during the last decade. Then later on I discovered WordPress and divided and imported the content into different blogs: Figments of a Dutchess for English posts, Drieske’s blog for writing in Dutch – a thing I had never done before, though I’m Dutch, and Dungeon Dutchess about the Dungeons & Dragons adventures of our group. Plus I started my first writing group called Blog Maar Raak!

I’m also attending a course in writing short stories and novels, so I can learn more about technical stuff and rules. Writing is hard work! Not all comes from inspiration, let me tell you that.

In autumn I mailed the editorial office of our university newspaper and applied for columnist. The newspaper didn’t have a vacancy, but they were working on a website for employees and asked if I was interested. WAS I INTERESTED? Well YES, totally! Since then I’ve been writing columns (in Dutch) fortnightly.

All of this together has grown into a wonderful experience: I’m writing, sharing thoughts and opinions! And through this, I met new friends from all over the world. Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging, it’s heart warming and an enormous boost for my self-confidence. I’ve been receiving messages in which readers tell me they enjoy my work and that I simply HAVE to continue. And this combination of actions – to grab the opportunity and GO for it – for me has been the most important accomplishment in 2010.

Can you guess what my word of the year 2011 is?
Yes, EXPRESSION (NL)