It’s Good to Be the Grace

I finish each day listing five things I’m grateful for. Sometimes, this exercise takes a while, because I am in a Bad Mood, or I’ve had a Bad Day. I don’t let myself go back to the same things too often, or my list would like look:

Chloe purring in my lap while I write my books.

My keeper authors and their wonderful HEAs.

My readers.

My family.

A safe place to sleep and enough to eat.

My health.

(Math was never my thing). In any case, that’s a nice list, it’s always true, and most of the stuff on that list IS a big deal. It occurred to me today though, that a slightly different list also deserves some attention: What do I like about being me? What’s going right in my, what’s a big treat that I get just for being Grace Burrowes right now?

I get to play Let’s Pretend endlessly, and I get PAID for it. Is that cool or what?

I can have a lot of solitude without feeling lonely. Very few jobs offer the exact balance of freedom and connection that being an author does, and it’s pretty nearly perfect for me.

Wellington’s Library

I get to research ALL KINDS OF STUFF. Louisa Cornell’s great post on Georgian libraries is research. A two-week intensive class in Gaelic on the Isle of Skye is research. Recreating a 200-year-old recipe for syllabub is research.

I get to learn about language. Did Jane Austen use gotten? (Yes, so did Pepys, and Trollope, and Dickens.) When did direction cease to mean your mailing address? (Late Victorian.) Which contractions were in common written usage in the Regency? (Lots of ’em.)

I feel appreciated (see last week’s comment from Colleen, for example, among others).

I set my own hours, which is great for somebody who likes to hammer on projects with some intensity but not punch a time clock.

There’s a LOT about how I go about my life now, that I just love. It wasn’t always like this, but I’ve always had something–some small thing–in my life that was for me, on my terms, even if it was a “just” a romance novel to read before bedtime.

What’s wonderful about being you? To one commenter, I’ll send a big old bunch of flowers.





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22 comments on “It’s Good to Be the Grace

  1. I was interviewed last Monday by my local paper. It is supposed to be a profile about how I got to be where I am–a woman choral conductor. And, let’s face it, the classical music world is especially sexist, which I why I became a choral conductor instead of an orchestra conductor. One of the last things the interviewer asked me was–am I happy doing what I do even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do? I thought about it and decided *yes* I am happy. I explained things didn’t happen the way I wanted them to happen but I don’t think I would have appreciated them if I hadn’t had to struggle. The article should be in the paper next week…we’ll see how they spin it.

    Back to your question, Grace. What’s great about being me is this–after all those struggles, I’ve created what I wanted and who I wanted to be. I conduct, write about conducting and rehearsal management, have a great (most of the time)family, found a few very precious friends who *get* me and I don’t care about the many *fremies* who don’t get me. In fact, I’ve reached a point where I don’t care what people think about what I do or how appropriate it is for a woman to do. I have a sense of freedom to be myself and it’s the greatest thing.

    Can’t wait for your Duchesses to arrive!

    • I sometimes wish I could give the twenty and even thirty-year-old me a taste of what it’s like to be me now. I’m the same person, some proclivities and sensitivities, but I don’t let life mess with me nearly as much. Maybe it’s the higher levels of testosterone a woman has as she ages, the thicker skin, the sense of having been on “give” for decades and enough is enough… whatever the chemistry, I’m happy too (for the most part), and I too have ended up somewhere many counties over from where I thought I would. Though it occurs to me, the story isn’t over yet for either of us.

  2. I have been retired for seven years and I am amazed at the speed those years have passed.Could it be that they have been mostly productive and the plans gone to plan,no it’s much more complicated than that.Like you Grace I need to stand still and think of the positive elements of my life some of my own making some from those around me.Balance is what works best for me.I need to be needed but not all the time,I also treasure peace and reflection.I love to read and have learned so much from this.Life however can throw many situations your way and disrupt a well balanced life.It needs courage to ‘re_assess and recognise the positives of your life,I think it is an on_going part of living and loving.

    • Change is the only constant? I’m amazed at how long it’s been since my daughter moved out (and how much I STILL miss her). Amazed at how long I’ve been in the courtroom, doing the child welfare thing… I look forward to the days when I can “just” write, and they are not that far off. I will try to treasure them when they arrive, and treasure today for all its joys and challenges.
      Balance–good thought!

  3. Watching the sun rise with Molly, the corgi. Am finding I enjoy the peace and quiet as Molly and I walk each morning. Both of us are looking forward to Spring!

    My family & Friends. Am proud of my daughter and the person she is becoming,


    Snuggling with Celeste after a long day. Patting her and listening to her talking makes me smile.

    Four things, math is not my friend either. Am trying to balance the new job with the housework with my dog activities and my blog. Sometimes, it all clicks into place and other times not so much.

    Am working on balancing everything, taking a walk during lunch and getting the fine details of the new job. Oh and Celeste’s long down…three minutes, perfectly still. I am a work in progress and I realize that that’s okay, too.

    Am so looking forward to your next few books. Re read Matthew and Axel and loved all of the connections– family, community and Matthew’s appetite.

    Have a great week!

    • I need to work on my long down too–what a great term. Celeste has come so far with you, it feels like there’s little the two of you could not accomplish if you really wanted it. I’m just glad you’re working on settling into the new job rather than enduring a job that’s not a good fit. Moving on is hard, sometimes staying is twice as hard. Glad you chose door number one!

  4. Finches feel safe at my feet. Friends’ dogs are insanely in love with my toes. Cats do me the honor of recognizing me in public, even if we haven’t been formally introduced. I can convince 85 year old ladies to try on shoes and let me buy them for them. She was wearing them today and much steadier on her feet + a dazzling smile.

    Don’t need flowers, the azaleas are blooming here.

  5. Thank you for the shout-out, Grace! The library post was such fun to research and I am learning even more researching the follow-up post. One of the good things about being me right now is having the time to do the research I love. Still learning when words came into use and constantly being surprised and in many cases delighted. I have the time to attempt to teach myself Welsh. I have the time to write. And thanks to you, I have my second writing career – proofing and researching for other writers. All I needed was a little “push out the door,” as Gandalf says. I spend all day every day with my dogs and Miss Rebecca Marie (the cat) and I haven’t driven them mad yet. After years of being a fan of the OneLondon blog I am now a contributor – another great thing about being me. Even if I am forced to go back to work in the “real world,” I have had this respite to truly see the “me” I want to be. And I won’t be going back to the stressed out, harried, worn out me again!

    • Some of your posts from Planet Bakery were hilarious–but others tugged at my heartstrings. I’m glad you’re having a chance to live the dream, because it’s a great dream. Let me know when you have a pub date because I’m always happy to steer the readers to great talent.

  6. There are a few great things about being me right now.

    1. I have recently realized that my kids are both HILARIOUS, usually unintentionally. If I listen closely to their conversations, 9 times out of 10, I end up smiling and laughing.

    2. I am at a stage in my life when big changes are coming. I am considering attending grad school and a complete career change, which is simultaneously anxiety-producing and exciting. But, I’m lucky to have a cheering section (my family and friends) who fully believes in me and supports these changes.

    3. The usually brutal Northeast Ohio winter has been mild and sunny this year and the extra doses of Vitamin D have done wonders for my general mood.

    • Isn’t that vitamin D some good stuff? My nephew lives in Sweden, and says by December, the Swedes will take ANY excuse to get outside. If it’s sunny, doesn’t matter how cold it is, they’re outside, faces turned to the sky, as much skin exposed as they dare.

      I did a master’s degree in conflict as I hit forty. It was GREAT fun, really gave my joie de job a shot in the arm, made me think in ways I could not have thunk as a twenty year old. Life is looooong, and if we’re going to be here 100 years, then some retooling in mid-adulthood makes a lot of sense.

      And yes… kids. Somebody warned me before I became a mom, that one of the hardest things about parenting is not laughing at the wrong time. He was right.

  7. My youngest son has a mental illness which has been a huge stress in our lives… Particularly mine as I work for myself and have a more flexible schedule than my husband. Early last summer he had a complete breakdown while we were on vacation and police where called and ambulances were involved and he spent 10 days in an inpatient psychiatric facility.

    Who knew that nightmare would be the best thing that happened to him? He’s on a reasonable list of meds now, it’s controlling his list of issues very well, he’s calm and happy and is even catching up in school and might be able to graduate. We’ve been able to do things as a family again that were
    intensely stressful just this time last year.

    So right now the best thing about being me is the joy I have that he’s doing well and we can enjoy family things. I’m nearly giddy that we can have dinner together again.

    • Early in my career as a child welfare attorney, and experience psychologist warned me that when one member of the family has a debilitating mental illness, the whole family is dealing with vicarious trauma, and probably not getting any support for it. People are kind, up to a point, but with a chronic diagnosis, they don’t really know what you’re going through, particularly with an older child.

      My heart goes out to you, and thank goodness somebody got involved with the case who had some good ideas. Onward and upward, and here’s to love that never gives up.

  8. I have two daughters, one just three weeks old, who is a good sleeper (as far as babies go), and we are done. Pregnancy is not easy or particularly safe for me, so to have two healthy girls here and whole? And that I’m recovering well too? Yep, it’s good to be me. Time to take the victory lap and retire the uterus.

    I love what I do for a living. Love it. Also love that I’m on sabbatical right now, which leaves more time for my girls. Barring some sort of ghastly one-in-a-thousand contraception failure, I’ll never have to face down juggling new parenthood with our appalling family leave policies in this country (USA) again. Win!

    My husband is awesome. He changes diapers, takes night shifts with the baby, does dishes, bathrooms, handles meals, loves his family of females (even the cat is a girl).

    Money is not a concern. We aren’t crazy-wealthy, but we have enough to live comfortably and to save for college and retirement and to have fun–within reason, of course.

    I have the most amazing family (my own, the one I grew up in, my extended family): supportive, smart, funny and fun. Sometimes I think to myself “How could *I* be one of THEM? They. Are. AMAZING.”

    New motherhood can leave one drained (physically, emotionally, etc.) and putting this list together was so very helpful. Thank you, Aunt Grace!

    • Lovely to get the update, Ona… and yet, I wish you a few naps, too. A few date nights. A few surprisingly early “she slept almost seven hours!” nights. When we get enough rest, the playing field stays almost level most of the time. (And vitamins, don’t forget those).

      By the time Heather was a month old, I was back at work, back at school five nights a week. It was awful. Our family leave policies are a disgrace, but they’re better than they were and they will improve more or the birth rate will drop, and the economy will contract, and we can’t have that, now can we?

  9. What is good about being me…hmmmm, well from your first list I would substitute books for readers and change the order a bit to put family first ( I think your list was in random order anyway)…I am envious of the scope of your second list because it sounds like so much fun yet augments the pursuit of quality for your craft…as for me: I have been able to master enough of this thing called social media to reach and maintain ties with far flung family and friends as well as expanding my horizons through tapping into other like-minded people’s loves, lives and creativity; case in point, following you on Facebook and now Instagram ; I promise I am not a stalker ( I am what is kindly called electronically challenged )…despite my advanced years, I still am gainfully and happily employed as a nurse, though I have switched my field of expertise from oncology to employee occupational health (clinical but no evenings, weekends or holidays)…I have become comfortable enough in my own skin to be more myself as opposed to being what is expected of me having been raised Catholic ( read: older, less filter, less built-in guilt)…I have traveled to far and distant climes and continue to do but at a more sedate and local pace ( my adventurous mind alas is tied to a older model body)…and lastly I can express my creative self dabbling in crafting projects for family and friends (thanks again to social media for inspiration and direction…)

    • Sounds like it’s fun to be you, too! The work shift strikes me as a particularly wise move. Oncology takes a toll (my sister manages an onco practice), and the travel too… I’m thinking Ireland this year. In addition to Scotland, of course.