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The Year of Living Minimally – Week Fourteen



Yes, there’s stuff – a ceramic dog, a broken chair, a heavy glass ashtray. We filled the St. Vincent de Paul donation bin, and we filled the dumpster, too. We’ve hauled bags and boxes to the curb, where ‘pickers’ have picked and taken their share. We had walls painted and carpet installed.

I’m writing this post on Wednesday morning (10/18). Four weeks since my father-in-law died unexpectedly. Nearly four weeks since we began this massive clear-out. The house is almost ready. We’ve been so busy, every day. 

We’ve reduced Ray’s house to a shell. 45 years of living, making memories, gone. Ready for someone else to breathe life into it.


Our footsteps echo throughout the empty rooms. On Thursday, we contacted our realtor and locked the door behind us. 


Now, I turn back to our own home. Next week’s post will focus on whatever I can manage to accomplish. One thing I am sure of – living minimally is the way to go.

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The Year of Living Minimally – Week Nine


Hurricanes. Fires. Floods. Tornadoes. We’ve had many natural disasters, and far too many people have been impacted. It’s a heartbreaking situation.

When you’re ordered to evacuate, usually you have very little time to pack and flee. If your local emergency management official told you you had thirty minutes to leave your residence, what would you take? What could you leave behind? 

This isn’t a post about disaster preparedness – you should familiarize yourself with it. This is about ridding yourself of the excess stuff around you. This week I’m tackling paper. Part one of I don’t know how many parts.


While cleaning out a closet last week, I found an accordion file from 1998. I’ve kept a file like that each year for the past 30 years – bills, receipts, cancelled checks. This one, from nearly 20 years ago, must have missed the shredder. I keep my records for seven years.

Look at my cable bill! That included my phone, too, but not internet. 

In light of the massive Equifax data breach, I wonder why I worry about shredding old documents. 


I also cleaned out the refrigerator. Even though we don’t live with the constant threat of hurricanes or tornadoes, we’ve lost power (more likely in a winter storm), and when you lose power for a prolonged period of time, you might lose what’s in the fridge and freezer. My husband is the Condiment King. I cleaned out near-empty jars of salsa, bottles of ketchup and soy sauce. 

I know I’ve been all over the place with this project. I could have stuck to cabinets and drawers until everything was cleaned out, but I’ve jumped around – closets, paper, furniture. Bit by bit, week by week, decision by decision.

It’s December!


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Isn’t that the truth? For those of us who have been connected way too much to every tweet, snipe, or carp, perhaps it’s time to pick up a book. A real book, with pages you turn.

I just finished my Book-a-Day #Giveaway here on the blog (although each post stays ‘live’ for a week, so you can go back to November 25 and still comment on any of the last six posts for a chance to win) – this November series has led us up to what we in the Association of Rhode Island Authors call our BIG EVENT – the Fourth Annual RI Authors Expo. It’s this Saturday, from 11:00am to 5:00pm, at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet http://www.rhodesonthepawtuxet.com/directions/

Come join me and about 125 other talented writers – we’ll have plenty of books, discussions, raffle baskets, and I hear there’s even a bar. 😉

 

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Sierra by Ray Anderson


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MURDER AND MAYHEM ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

In SIERRA, a new thriller from Ray Anderson, released prisoners mule hard drugs up the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

Years after his run-in with a serial killer on the Appalachian Trail, former Army officer Karl Bergman sets out on a thru-hike of the PCT with his dog, Blazer, with the hopes of returning home a better man.

The discovery of a dead body on the outskirts of the Anza-Borrego Desert threatens to embroil Bergman in another violent chain of events with even higher stakes than his previous ordeal. This time his adversary is not just one man as the dead body appears to be linked to a Mexican drug cartel.

An uneasy alliance with a San Diego narcotics officer makes things more difficult, but when Bergman reconnects with his estranged son, Kenny, a sophomore at UCLA, he puts both of them in grave danger that can only be escaped by bringing down the cartel’s operation. Blazer plays a key role at the end of the story.

“Like Ray Anderson’s first novel THE TRAIL, his new thriller is tense, twisty, and steeped in details that only an experienced long distance hiker could put on the page. Anderson brings the danger and excitement of the remote Pacific Crest Trail fully to life. More than that, he tells one hell of a story. For fans of outdoor mysteries, SIERRA is sure to satisfy.”

~Paul Doiron, Author of WIDOWMAKER

 

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Ray Anderson has hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and parts of the Continental Divide Trail. He has also climbed all the four-thousand footers (67) in New England. He’s currently working on the third novel in his hiking-thriller series.

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

 

 

 

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Daughters of Divorce by Terry Gaspard


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Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Their Parents’ Divorce

Today, more than 40 percent of all Americans between the ages of eighteen and forty are children of divorce. For years, researchers have identified the damage divorce inflicts on the lives of children. In recent decades, many studies have examined the negative impact of parental divorce on children into adulthood.

In fact, daughters of divorce are more than twice as likely to divorce themselves when compared to their counterparts from intact families. However, few books have offered concrete strategies for women who desire happy, long-lasting intimate relationships.

Grounded in research and thirty years of clinical practice, Daughters of Divorce is filled with poignant real-life stories and offers a clear road-map to help women increase their self-awareness and to develop better relationship skills so they can heal the wounds of the past and build the healthy, happy relationships that they deserve.

During over 300 in-depth interviews, I identified seven key emotional challenges faced by daughters of divorce that are nearly universal:

  • Trouble trusting romantic partners
    • Damaged self-esteem
    • Issues with intimacy and commitment
    • Extreme self-reliance
    • Pessimism about the stability of relationships
    • A father-daughter wound

With greater awareness, women can learn to recognize the forces that shape them and build healthier relationships for themselves. It can no longer be about her parents’ attitude or behavior. It’s time for her to create change in her life and move forward. She will discover she can change self-defeating patterns in her relationships and build ones based on love, trust, and intimacy.

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Terry’s new book Daughters of Divorce: Overcoming the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-lasting Relationship offers a powerful look at the impact of parental divorce and provides concrete ways women can improve their relationships. Follow Terry at movingpastdivorce.com, Facebook, and Twitter.  

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and thew author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Winding Stream


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I’m in the habit of doing ‘soft’ releases – minimal fanfare and proclamations. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly proud to announce the publication of this new book, and the first in my portfolio that’s non-fiction.

A Winding Stream chronicles the two-week canoe and camping trip that my maternal grandfather, Earl R. Handy, made with his friend, John B. Hudson, in 1924. 1924!  Five years before the Great Depression, seventeen years before Pearl Harbor. In June of 1924, the Snyder Act granted US citizenship to all American Indians. George Mallory and A.C. Irvine died attempting to climb Mount Everest. And on the last day of June in 1924, the Democratic National Convention adjourned at midnight with William Gibbs McAdoo and Al Smith deadlocked in balloting.

This little book (54 pages) may be of interest (outside my family!) to those interested in the region, canoeing and camping, the environment, local history, or to anyone wanting to take a quiet journey back ninety-two years. Paddle down the rivers with Earl and John for fourteen days. And if you think you might like to re-create this adventure, please let me know!

Pick up your copy at Amazon and come see me in December at one of my book events!

Thursday, December 1 (6:00pm) – Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville, RI

Saturday, December 3 (11:00-5:00) – RI Authors Expo at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI

Focus on the Positive


“Find every opening to reinforce the value of returning to right and reason in your own life.”

~ Deepak Chopra

I thought I’d post this one line instead of Chopra’s entire article (which you can read here if you’re so inclined). I didn’t want to turn it into a political post – haven’t we all had enough of this exhaustive ugliness anyway? It’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little bit lazy, so here are some pictures to brighten your day. Focus on the positive when you can – all this negativity does you no good.

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All photoS by M. Reynolds

Gandria, Switzerland

Gandria, Switzerland

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Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI

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Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI

 

 

October


photo by m. reynolds

photo by m. reynolds

October

For Better or Worse


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Oh, those pesky vows. How they can interfere with one’s selfish pursuits.

Shortly before I married my husband, 22 years ago next month, one of my former co-workers stood in front of me. She was middle-aged and divorced. Giving me a smirky smile, she said, ‘Oh, you think he’s so perfect now. Check back in ten years when the magic’s worn off. Believe me, it disappears.’

Thanks for that, I replied. And I’m sorry your marriage didn’t last, but bestowing your bitterness on me didn’t work. I reflected on that exchange this week as I’ve been thinking about marriage. Commitment. Vows.

Jim and I met up with a couple from New York earlier this week. Sometimes we only see them once a year, but it’s always enjoyable. They’ve been married for longer then we have. They’re two pieces of a puzzle, they’re just both.

Then there’s the woman who, after thirty-odd years of marriage. is still gushy over her husband. It’s sweet, yes, and a bit off-putting sometimes. But she can still get corny after thirty years with the same man, so who can find fault, really?

‘In sickness and in health’

The guy who acts like a seven-year-old when he has the flu. The woman who is unbearable once a month. And now, as I see more and more frequently, the partner with a life-threatening illness. Every day can’t be sunshine and flowers. Every relationship is tested during the most difficult times – illness, financial challenges, raising children. That’s also when a marriage can be at its strongest. Stresses are everywhere. Saying “I Do” means saying “I Will.” I will love you even on the days I don’t like you. I will laugh with you, not at you. I will support you and respect you. I will stand by you, no matter what. And I will love growing old with you.

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Hi, My Name is….Introvert


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Some of you will read this title and think, ‘Not Martha!’  I know. I play a good game of it.

Last week I attended an event with my pal Lynne. I didn’t think I’d know anyone there. I ended up seeing a couple of former co-workers (people who were actually nice), and I was introduced to a few of Lynne’s colleagues. Smiles and handshakes all around. Nodding at conversation.

And yesterday I attended my 40th high school reunion. It was a very successful day, and, as I’d had a hand in the planning of the event, I received plenty of compliments and positive feedback about the day.

After a few hours, I couldn’t wait to leave.

Now hold on – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to see old friends. I did! And they’re really great people. Yes, we’ve all grown up (way up), and after forty years, much of my teenage angst is pushed back. Maybe not forgotten but certainly diluted by life’s joys and accomplishments. I had a chance to speak with just about everyone, and even led a goofy trivia contest.

Well, that doesn’t sound like an introvert, does it?

But here’s the thing, and I thank Lynne for the conversation last week as we were driving back home from the beach event: an extrovert derives energy from being around people – an introvert’s energy is sucked out by being around others. An introvert may work hard at being sociable, but it’s draining.

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Introverts don’t like small talk – not because they dislike people, but because it serves as a kind of barrier. Introverts sometimes feel alone, even in the midst of familiar faces. Introverts can be excellent public speakers (yes!), but find it more difficult and stressful to mingle with others afterwards. Introverts start to shut down after they’ve been active for too long. And I did, at both events. So, my apologies to my high school friends for leaving the party without saying my goodbyes. I was so grateful to be in your company! And for the ones from my high school class who couldn’t attend the reunion, meeting one-on-one or in a small group would be absolutely perfect. But you knew that.