Seeing in Silver

blue kittyIn many regards, my life has been solitary. I was a single mom from the moment of my daughter’s conception. I’ve owned my own law practice for more than twenty years, and except for the people who work for me, I’m the only attorney in my jurisdiction who does what I do. I mostly have my house to myself, and more often than not, when I travel, I travel alone.

Even if I’m touring in the UK with a group, I’m usually sitting by myself for much of the day, walking by myself, and rooming by myself. I’m happy this way. While I enjoy most people, being around others drains me of energy, which is simply the definition of an introvert. Solitude recharges me.

rose croppedOne of the by-products of this much self-determination is that when I get down or daunted, there’s nobody on hand to cheer me up, or even to distract me by throwing a bigger pout than I have going. (My siblings are married, you’ll recall.) If I get stuck in a ditch, I have to tow myself out. I know this is true of many people who live in full houses, too.

I expect those same people share with me a willingness to look for silver linings. After I’ve groused and grumbled and shaken my fist at the sky, I often come around to seeing if not a bright side, then a constructive side.

candlesAs I write this, the old winter storm is raging. I keep a three-gallon bucket of water on the living room hearth for the dogs. When I got up this morning, that water had a crust of ice on it, and because the cat door had blown open, snow was collecting on my carpet. I’d let the wood stove go out to conserve wood, and thus I could see my breath in the living room.

woodstoveLovely! First cheering thought: I can use this in a book! Imagine how typical this would have been in days of yore, when somebody might have forgotten to bank the coals, or the bedrooms were closed off from lit fires to keep the rest of the house warm.

Second cheering thought: When it’s winter storming, we stay home, and thus spread fewer pathogens, and this cold snap will do wonders to keep the bug populations in check–we all know about me and bugs, right?

Third cheering thought: Not like I ever want to do anything but stay home and write anyway!

Fourth cheering thought: Perfect day to send all that cardboard I’ve been saving for kindling up the old chimney. Take the chill off in a hurry and reduce landfill waste.

Fifth cheering thought: It’s a potpourri day, for sure. I’ll toss some of that essential oil of lavender into the steamer pot. Love me some lavender.

lap-catI could go on, but that’s enough to provide a sense of my internal patter. The less I’m on social media hearing other people rant, the more I’m Winnie-the-Poohing my way through life’s little ups and downs, the happier I am.

When you land in a ditch, how do you get out? Friends? Family? Time alone? A little of all three? Music? Books? Flowers? To one commenter, I’ll send Neil Oliver’s “History of Scotland.” (Because Scotland knows a few things about climbing out of ditches.)


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37 comments on “Seeing in Silver

  1. I have often think of my life as being a series of rooms. Childhood, boarding school, first job, living in the UK, working, going to university, marriage at age 42, birth of son, and now widowhood at age 67. I sometimes wander through my rooms, sometimes with family and sometimes with friends, but often alone. However over the years, books have always been my companion which no one can ever take from me. I love the fact that I live now and was never denied the chance to learn to read and discover the world.

  2. I do agree with you that cheering thoughts is an excellent way to bring the grumpies under countrol. I love winters and miss them from a distance — I live in So California. Believe it or not you don’t have to live in a place where winters are hard and thunder and lightening mean real rain (I miss the rain) to want to crawl into books to escape the grays. What really helps is sitting on the steps and listening to the birds sing,smelling the orange blossoms, watching the hummingbirds sipping honeysuckle and thanking the Lord for the small joys of creation. Even if I am feeling particularly isolated and solitary, trying on a smile at the grocery store and complimenting a parent on a lovely or well behaved child seems to imprint the smile on me as well. It makes me less likely to snap at my dear ones.

    • My parents live in San Diego, and I had to spend some summers there are a kid. I don’t know who was more dismayed, me or my mom, when “June gloom” meant very few days to hang out out side. I never enjoyed the beach (still mostly don’t), but those clouds… Pittsburgh has clouds like that.

      • “Had” to spend summers in San Diego? I would love to have to spend summers there. And June gloom can some years extend from April to July. But it pales (Hah) before what you are facing in the east.

  3. I feel your pain Grace. No really, I do. I’m going through much the same thing myself right now. January and February are the hardest months.

    The weather has been so bad lately, I just don’t feel like doing anything. And I certainly don’t feel like going out in this extremely cold, icy and snowy weather. I don’t even feel like going to my water exercise class at the pool – which is something I absolutely love.

    So cabin fever sets in and I start to feel sorry for myself. First thing I do is pull out my “attitude of gratitude” and concentrate on how blessed my life is. That helps. I’m not a big phone talker, but when the weather is so bad that activity picks up some. And I’m fortunate that my sister lives near by. Sometimes just going to her house (or her to mine) for lunch is enough to pull me out of my funk.

    And then I have my books. I do a lot of rereading of my favorites during this time. Just reread THE SOLDIER last week. You know Grace, of all your books I’ve read – it’s still my favorite.

    • Lots of people like The Soldier best, and when St. Just shows up in another book, he always gets a round of applause. (Winnie says she saw him first.)

      I actually don’t have a problem with general mood this time of year–I love to be home and cozy, love the writing days marching along in a long line. I do get daunted by The House, which is looking pretty sorry right about now. Spring will come, though. And then summer, about which I am more likely to need cheering up.

      • Am glad Winnie found St Just.
        He is my favorite GB hero.
        I have read The Soldier several times.
        It’s such a great story.

  4. Hang in there Grace. Joy does come in the morning.
    I distract myself from worrying, usually with reading but walking is a close second nowadays. I am glad you have your cats to cuddle, your daughter to call and your stories to write.

  5. I’m not good with thanking my blessings; it doesn’t cheer me up but just makes me feel guilty for being miserable! Sunshine helps a great deal, but the problem with that is everything seems even worse when it’s grey.

    I retreat into books, specially Mary Stewart’s romantic suspenses and Georgette Heyer, old favourites which I know very well but which can still hold my attention and take me away from reality. I know they’re safe, I can avoid a couple which I find depressing. I can’t say that they actually make me feel better when I finish them, but they take my mind of things!

  6. Last week, I was overwhelmed. I was tired and achy from shoveling snow. Commuting to work during these storms has been awful. It’s taking me 90 minutes to get to work and 2+ hours to get home each day. Usually my drive is 40 minutes. With 10′ snow drifts and no commuter rail service, parking spaces at work are at a premium. Everybody at work is cranky.

    I started to give in & get cranky … Wasn’t my happy self. I grabbed a cup of tea at break and started to read Beckman & Gabriel on my IPhone. The story cheered me up. I came home to Valentine flowers, a book & cookies– from my husband, such a nice surprise which made my day…really my week. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s hard to stay positive in the winter. It’s cold, icy and windy. And the snow isn’t stopping anytime soon!! I try to get out each Saturday with Celeste. We have an obedience class and a nose work class. It’s a morning out, excersise and we are learning something new.

    A cup of tea, flowers and a good book can make you forget all about the winter blues. Cookies and a corgi to snuggle with also help, too!

    Stay warm & cozy today with the dogs and kitties. I am hoping you are writing a new Scottish contemporary novel. I am loving Dunstan’s family. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’ve written another duet, Sue. Must Love Scotland, which will go on sale in May, with Love on the Links and My Heartthrob’s in the Highlands as the two titles. I love writing those–they’re substantial enough to hold my interest, and condensed enough to give me a sense of forward momentum as I’m writing them.

      Nose work. What a great term!

  7. It is cold and raining here today so I have a date with several books. I plan to spend my day with Sebastian St. Clair from “The Traitor” and Michael Brodie from “The Laird” and maybe a little Hawker from “The Black Hawk” That’s how I get myself out of that “ditch”.

  8. Oh, I’m going to buy some flowers when I go to the store this afternoon! After all of winter hitting in one week in February flowers will be wonderful.

  9. Living in the Midwest means weather is always a topic of conversation. Winter drags on…and on…and on. Pretty on a Christmas card, but by February, the magic is over. Really, really over.

    Since I’m not a downhill skier–or fan of any outside winter activity–I stick to what I know and love best. Books. My favorite remedy for too much outside-world-time is a book, specifically historical romance. A few years ago, when I discovered Grace Burrowe’s books, I snatched up the entire collection on the shelf (all two of them, shame on Barnes and Nobles…). A couple weeks later, I was on a short vacation in Houston and found three more new titles. I was in alt. I had a way to get through the rest of winter.

    I teach elementary school, and the most important ‘skill’ I share with my students is the love of reading. I don’t share the titles of historical romance I’m reading–hey, they are only 11 years old–but that enjoyment and satisfaction and excitement of a new book by a favorite author–oh, I try to share that every single day.

    I cannot imagine my world without books.

  10. Grace you have so much to be proud of: raising your daughter alone, your law practice, your books and your great attitude.

    How I get out of a ditch often depends on why I’m there, but usually it is my family, my friends, my critters, and my books that help me get out. I do need some space from humans for a portion of each day because I too am an introvert.

    Stay warm! Spring will be here soon!

  11. We have a saying in my family, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade……or an Old Fashioned if you’ve got the booze!”

    My husband is a physician and we were married before he started med school. His residency was six years (he’s a surgical specialist)and also did a one year fellowship. So for about the first 12 years or so of our marriage, I was technically married but had to cope with everything in the day to day by myself. Oh, and we had no money. Our eldest son was diagnosed with autism and I had our youngest two before he finished med school as well.

    The one thing I learned was I could count on myself but not anyone else, even hubby. I’m more capable than many of my peers because I had to be early on. And it feels good!

  12. I grew up in a family that made most of the decisions for you and I went from there to married life and pretty much the same thing. I have a hard time making decisions sometimes and in hindsight I should have lived on my own but I am more of an extrovert and love being with people. I don’t mind being alone most of the day if need be but then I do have the internet which is a form of company. I guess one does what one has to do if it comes down to it but I don’t relish the idea of ever living alone but who knows for sure until it happens!

  13. Living on the West Coast of Florida means never having to see that 4 letter word-SNOW. I feel that Florida is my reward for all the good things I’ve done in my life. Retired, I can indulge in reading each day-a lovely gift I give myself. When I read your novels, I think-this is the way people really spoke! Thank you for sharing your gift!

  14. I turned 51 last week. I took off a couple of days, including my birthday. I went out of town. I was supposed to ride with one girlfriend. I ended up riding with another. My husband freaked out, but it was all good. I got to spend the weekend with 35 people I like. It is good to spend time with people I enjoy.

  15. I’m really grateful I read this today. I’ve had a rough two weeks with a lot of private “woe is me” moments while trying to be positive in public. I know I need to process some bad stuff, but I have been neglecting my gratitude journal in the midst of this challenge and your post is a great reminder to get back to seeing silver linings. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I use social media to connect, but I always weigh my words carefully before sharing personal things there. I strive to have it be upbeat and silver linings focused. Not that I Pollyanna the bad stuff and pretend it’s not there, but I always aim to have a lesson-learned or “tomorrow is another day” theme. In return, I find a lot of kindness and support comes my way. Most importantly, I receive a lot of “I feel the same way, thank you for sharing” responses from people who didn’t feel they could say it first. Very validating.

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