Tag Archives: Writing

Saturday Now

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Saturday Now

Saturday is a very different day than it used to be. One cup of coffee with yogurt and granola. Off in an Uber to teach English for a couple of hours.

Another Uber home and off to the carnicería. He grilled the chicken I bought for me. I’d take a walk to the bakery and do any other shopping and then return to pick up my chicken.

After lunch (yes lunchtime was at around 4 pm) I’d head to the church to teach for an hour.

In the evening I’d explore the Expoplaza area. There were always numerous food vendors. I’d watch the children ride around the square on a burro. I’d listen to music and walk through the San Marcos park.

I’d have interesting conversations with people. A handful understood minimal English but it was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish.

Occasionally I’d attend a birthday party or another fiesta on a Saturday evening. And there were concerts close by as well.

Saturday now is very different. Lots of time for that second cup of coffee. I can leisurely make an omelet. No rush to get dressed. No reason to call an Uber. No students to teach.

I take two walks a day. One is before it gets too hot and the other is after it cools off in the evening. Daytime highs are in the low 90s.

This is what Expoplaza area looks like now.

I color, I watch movies, I write, I phone friends and I listen to music.

Actually Saturday seems pretty much like every other weekday now.

What About Your Other Health?

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What About Your Other Health?

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Maintain social distancing. Stay at home. This is all great advice for protecting your physical health.

But what about your mental health? What are you doing to protect your mental health?

If you’re self-isolating, you spend a lot of time by yourself. This is a perfect opportunity for your brain to go into overdrive. This results in an unnecessary abundance of fear and anxiety and ultimately panic. Even if you are at home and have other family members with you, the conversation ultimately focuses on COVID-19.

The art of mindfulness and meditation are two techniques that work for me. If I’m coloring I focus on the masterpiece I’m creating. If I’m watching a movie I really listen to the Spanish and am amazed at how much better my comprehension has become.

I meditate with music and imagery. I’ve even gotten back to gazing at the flame of a candle.

I’ve replaced a great deal of my social media viewing with the above-mentioned. When I want the facts about COVID-19 I go to the Mayo Clinic website. I also participate in discussion groups on this site.

I find online Church as well as Bible study to be important. Both are a great way to stay connected. I also find them comforting.

I also spend less time on the phone although I do connect with the my family and close friends more regularly. Just as long as the conversation doesn’t focus completely on the virus.

Quite obviously I’m spending more time writing. Blog posts are every second day. I’m also working on my next book.

I make a point of going out for walks every day. I lose myself in the beauty of nature. So many trees and flowers are beginning to bloom.

I guess you could say I take a lot of time for ME and I highly recommend it.

Take time for yourself!

TV Time

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TV Time

I don’t usually watch TV often. I much prefer spending time with people. However, seeing as I’m stuck in the twilight zone, I have added TV to the list of my current best friends.

Friday marks the end of my first two weeks self-isolating. Writing and coloring occupy a great deal of my time, but TV is right in there now as well.

Primarily I watch movies in Spanish. But I find the selection here quite heavy in sci-fi, fantasy and horror which I do not enjoy. Martial arts movies are also popular and not my preference either.

As I write this I’m watching Moana. I enjoy the music. My favorite movies are dramas and comedies. But I have also found other interesting programs to watch.

I saw a documentary the other day on ocean life. I went on safari in Africa another time. I learned how not to smuggle cocaine out of Brazil. And I am mastering the art of cooking such delights as swordfish and octopus, not that I will actually prepare either of those dishes LOL.

I’ve always loved cartoons and the Disney channels keep me entertained. And then there is Los Simpsons.

I haven’t yet resorted to watching movies in English on YouTube. But the crystal ball tells me this is definitely a future possibility.

Stay at home and stay safe!

My New Virtual World

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My New Virtual World

Social distancing. Physical distancing. Self-isolating. Self-quarantine. Common buzz words we all live with today.

I’m a people person. I like to be with people. I like to do things with people. I like to go places with people. I like to wander in and out of shops conversing with the locals.

Here I am in Mexico in the mist of this COVID-19 madness where I spend most of the time by myself. And my virtual world has become more important lately.

I confess I spend much less time on Facebook. Too much negativity and misinformation. However I do share my blog posts every other day. And I respond to private messages. But when I want the facts about the virus I check the Mayo Clinic website. I also participate in discussion groups on this site too.

On Sundays I no longer go to church. Instead I tune in online to Church of the Rock in Winnipeg.

And new this past week…. Pastor Kent of Leavenworth Church of the Nazarene is offering an online Bible study on Wednesdays. And I have partnered with my friend Becky in Indiana to further discuss what is presented each week.

And then there is What’s App, Instagram and Twitter. But I refuse to Zoom.

I do try to limit my time in this virtual world. I have my writing, coloring and daily walks to occupy my time. I also spend much more time on the phone with friends. I was even interviewed by a Winnipeg Free Press journalist on the phone a couple of weeks back.

But I miss the in-person contact. I wonder how much longer I will have to just be content with only my virtual world.

My New Daily Routine

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My New Daily Routine

Since I’ve been retired I haven’t really had much of a daily routine. Basically it’s been traveling around Mexico six months of the year and doing a lot of volunteering and socializing in Leavenworth the other six months, with an occasional side trip to Canada.

This winter I returned to Aguascalientes City with the intent to focus on my Spanish skills. I returned to the same neighborhood where I am the only gringa.

I used to savor my first cup of coffee at 8 am. I’d often go to my favorite gordita stand for breakfast. And then it was off to the shops to engage people in conversation. Now many shops look like this.

In the afternoon I’d go to the park to color. Sometimes I’d meet friends there.

I also used to attend church services on Thursday and Sunday. Saturday was my one teaching day.

And then COVID-19 entered our lives.

I now have breakfast in my hotel room. And some days I don’t even get dressed until around noon. I watch movies in Spanish to improve my comprehension but it doesn’t do much for conversation or pronunciation.

I still color every day but not in the park. The park is closed.

I go for shorter walks. I spend more time on the phone with friends. I do on-line church and I’m going to sign up for another course on Coursera.

That leaves me with lots of time for writing. I now do blog posts every second day. And I’m hoping my imaginary friends keep talking to me so that my work in progress does indeed continue to progress.

Phase 2 has begun in Ags. People around here seem to be taking COVID-19 very seriously and the streets are quieter than usual. No problem with social distancing.

Stay home and stay safe!

Today in Aguascalientes

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Today in Aguascalientes

It’s hot out there. The 90s have arrived. Days like this I miss the ocean in Mazatlan.

Thursday morning there is an outdoor market in my neighborhood.

Restaurants are closed. Take out and delivery only.

Bars are closed here although my friend told me they’re still open in Leavenworth, Washington. Go figure.

Schools are closed. I haven’t heard anything about the indoor malls yet.

A friend in Zacatecas told me this morning that she couldn’t find chicken or eggs. So far we have no shortages here in Ags.

Corner tiendas are open. Note in my pics that these are not completely enclosed. Lots of fresh air gets in and social distancing is easy as there are seldom more than 2 or 3 people in them at the same time.

My saving grace are my daily coloring sessions in the park. The flowers are beginning to bloom again.

I really miss all the time I used to spend walking in and out of shops and engaging in conversation. It was a great way to socialize as well as practice my Spanish. Now most of my socializing is over the internet or on the phone.

A silver lining to every cloud……more time for writing!

The Joys Of Writing

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The Joys Of Writing

As a child and also as a teenager I enjoyed writing poetry. That came to a grinding halt when I got married and had children. I had no time for writing anymore.

Flash ahead two decades and I enrolled in a creative writing class at Red River College in Winnipeg. “Write about what you know.” This is what our instructor advised.

When I was studying for my counseling certification, I was introduced to the concept of journaling. This correlated really well with what I had learned in the creative writing class.

Journaling became a part of my daily routine. It also was a major influence in my decision to write my first book, When Glad Becomes Sad, which was published back in 2009.

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That was also the year my marriage ended. My ex got custody of the computer we had shared and I bought a new laptop. Sadly my journals were never transferred to my laptop along with numerous other files. I was so upset and angry about this that I stopped journaling altogether.

Until December of 2013. I was living in Guadalajara and two of my housemates were computer gurus. One was also a web developer and he introduced me to the world of blogging.

I began publishing posts and also got back to daily journaling. And in 2015 my second book, Alive Again, was published.

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Next I decided to try my hand at writing fiction, a huge change from the two self-help books I had published previously.

At first I had a blast creating characters and devising scenarios. I had an outline and I believed my plot and sequence were solid.

But the more I wrote, the more complicated it all became. On occasion the frustration would overcome the fun, and my work in progress would be set aside.

Image result for cartoon images of writer's block when your imaginary friends stop speaking to you

Yes that has been my experience for a while now. But…..the other day my characters once again began speaking to me!

Maybe there’s hope for publishing a third book.

Writing About Life

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Writing About Life

As a young child, I delighted in writing short poems and creating birthday cards with rhyming verses. I even continued to write throughout my teens. I began a novel but somewhere along the line the magic vanished. When depression and anxiety entered my life as an adult, I began to journal. Next came the publication of two self-help books. I then discovered the art of blogging. Unfortunately the journaling has fallen by the wayside at the moment, but a new course in writing memoirs has taken its place.

This week’s homework entails finding a childhood photo and sharing a memory. This has proven to be quite a difficult feat as all the family photo albums are back in Canada and I am not. While I do have countless photos of my own children stored on my Seagate, I have only a handful of myself. I think my appearance as well as taste in clothing has changed significantly over the years. The bonnet and dress have been replaced by jeans and t-shirts.

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Another writing challenge that has occupied my time recently is an article to be published in Scoop, the newsletter at the Leavenworth Senior Center. I submitted two articles last summer about my life in Mexico. The article I’m going to share in this post was co-written with my friend Karen. We are two of the instructors in the S.A.I.L. program here in town and highly encourage seniors to attend these fitness classes. We both recognize how the exercises have enhanced our health and well-being, and are eager to share this experience with others.

 

Here is the article:

                                      STAY ACTIVE AND INDEPENDENT FOR LIFE

                                                                (S.A.I.L)

The Senior Falls Prevention Study was undertaken in 2003-2005 by the Washington State Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The WSDOH recognized the need for a program and sponsored research in social marketing in 2005-2006 aimed at how best to motivate seniors to participate. Also in 2006 S.A.I.L. instructor training was developed and funding provided by the WSDOH. In 2007 the results of a study of the participants showed improved balance, mobility skills and leg strength, as well as a reduction in fear of falling. Further research continues to support these findings.

S.A.I.L. is a strength, balance and fitness program geared towards adults 65 years and older. The activities have been designed to help seniors to stay independent and active as well as to prevent falls.

S.A.I.L. is evidence based as participants are assessed regularly by experienced and skilled instructors trained by professionals associated with Wellness Place in Wenatchee.

Classes follow a format of warm up exercises, aerobics and activities that promote balance, strength and flexibility.

Due to the nature of the program, a doctor’s consent is required prior to enrollment. Please drop by to observe a class and obtain the necessary forms.

The one hour classes are free of charge and are held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10:30 am at First Baptist Church, 429 Evans Street, here in Leavenworth.

We hope you will join us soon!

 

 

And now it is time for me to put the finishing touches on my submission for my writing class. I will leave adulthood for the present and delve back into my childhood.

Who Am I?

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Who Am I?

I’ll be honest. I’m still trying to find myself. Yes, I know that this expression is decades old. But so am I, and I still crave adventure and who knows what else. I have been so many different people throughout the years. Baby to child to teenager to adult to wife to mother to name just a few. Babysitter to bookkeeper to manager to business owner to counselor to social worker to motivational consultant to teacher to writer to fitness instructor to name just a few. But who am I really?

Many followers of my blog know me personally. However there are others from around the world who read my posts and have never met me in person. So this post is dedicated to you. Here is a glimpse of who I am as I travel through this journey of life in an attempt to find myself.

My name is Karen and I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Winnipeg is the capital city of the province and is smack dab in the middle of the prairies. It is infamous for the brutal winters and has justly earned the nickname of “Winterpeg.” Other than a brief few years in Oak Bluff, Manitoba I lived in Winnipeg all my life until November of 2010.

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I still vividly recall the day I left. First stop was Grace Hospital to say goodbye to my daughter, who was a nurse there at the time. From there my son took me to the airport where another tearful goodbye transpired. I was on my way to my first ESL teaching job in Mexico. I had never been apart from my children for more than a couple of weeks at a time, and this was going to be a ten month separation. I cried all the way to Minneapolis and my first layover on the journey to Culiacan. And I must admit that I am still tearful as I don’t see my children often enough. I love them, I am so very proud of all their accomplishments and I miss them terribly. But we are all adults and we all have our own lives to lead. 

I returned to Winnipeg in July of 2011 and halfheartedly began looking around for a job and a place to live. I also had legal issues to deal with as my divorce decree was nowhere in sight although the marriage had ended in January of 2009. And then I received the phone call.

Are you interested in coming back to Mexico? We have a job opening in our private school here in Irapuato. Really? Hmmmm, teaching in Mexico was to be a one year plan. But the Skype interview went well and a couple of weeks later I was on my way back to Mexico.

It is now February of 2018. And I have retired from teaching. I’m into my third year here in Mazatlan after a few years in Guadalajara. I have also discovered a new summer home in Leavenworth, Washington where I lead an active life including a fair amount of volunteer work. Yes, summer home. Mazatlan is far too hot in the summer.

I have published two self-help books. “When Glad Becomes Sad” deals with depression and anxiety. “Alive Again” deals with separation and divorce. I am currently working on a book of fiction and enjoying writing it immensely. I have contributed articles to books published by other authors, and hope to publish more of my own poems and short stories in the future.

When I’m not writing, my favorite pastime here in Mexico is attending music and dance performances. I enjoy traveling and meeting new people. I belong to a Red Hat group and I play Hand and Foot regularly. I spend hours walking along the malecon. I love the ocean. That is what influenced my decision to leave Guadalajara. I like to watch movies and am hopelessly addicted to Candy Crush. I also take hundreds of pictures with my smart phone. And I have more recently begun volunteering at a Christian mission. And as an aside to my friends in Leavenworth, yes I am still coloring.

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I am forever indebted to former Tlaquepaque housemates Omar and Sean who encouraged me to begin writing a blog on WordPress. And I am flattered that so many people take the time to read my posts. And I now have the time to read other writers’ blogs.

Now that I am retired, my focus will be on my writing, especially my current work in progress.  I have no idea what my next post will be about. I hadn’t anticipated this one until the words began to flow. So we’ll all be in suspense until the next one.

Sleepless in Los Pinos

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Sleepless in Los Pinos

I make a point of walking approximately five miles a day to and from my destinations. All other walking is incidental. Amazing what a difference new knees have made in my life. Yesterday I unexpectedly by far exceeded the five miles and I was confident when I climbed into bed that sleep was imminent. I put on some classical music that almost immediately lulled me to sleep.

But it was not a restful sleep. Although I can’t recall the dreams I had, they must have been pretty strange and wild. I awoke with a start at 2:41 am. One of my characters in the book I’m writing was vying for my attention. I soon realized that Lorne was going to win this round.

Karen, you need to listen to me NOW! I have this situation with Misty. I know it should never have gone this way, but it did. I know this wasn’t what you had in mind for me when you first wrote me into your book.

Lorne, shut the F up! It’s the middle of the night and I need to sleep. Your crisis can wait. It hasn’t been put into writing yet.

Exactly Karen! You need to get it down now. While it’s going down. I know your laptop is just sitting there waiting to be booted up. And this is so incredibly important. You don’t want to miss out on this.

I left my cosy bed and plopped down in front of my laptop. It took only seconds to boot up and a minute or so to find my file.

Okay Lorne, let me have it. Just what is so traumatic that you disturbed my sleep?

I glanced down at the corner of the screen and was amazed to see that it was now 4:47 am. More than two hours had passed since I had been so rudely awoken by Lorne. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with fatigue.

I fell asleep to the sounds of roosters crowing outside my window. Yes, my neighbors have roosters. And they crow at all hours of the day and night. But alas they are camera shy.