Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"

A year ago, with a pile of vegetables to wash and chop, I turned on television to the last hour of a mostly forgettable movie. Two lines of the theme song were not so forgettable. They haunted me in the way that a song can where you think of it before going to sleep and the first thing upon awakening. Don't you hate it when this happens? This time it seemed important so I paid attention.

It went: "What are you doing the rest of your life? North and south and east and west of your life?"

I don't remember who was singing it in the movie because right away it became Frank Sinatra's voice in my mind singing straight to me: "Dewena, what are you doing the rest of your life?"

Weird, huh?

I emailed my sisters one of our Sister Letters, telling them about the music and the lines haunting me, challenging me. In turn, I asked them the question, "What are you doing the rest of your life?"

A dialogue opened up. One sister who had left a stressful career of decades wrote back that everyone told her to now do what she loved to do but she told them: "I do not know what I love. I have been too long at the rat race."

Isn't that the most frustrating of all? To finally be given time to do the things you love but you don't know exactly what it is you love to do? She wrote that she thought the song might be a message for her too.

A few days later our other two sisters joined in, one saying she couldn't get the song out of her mind, that it did cause her to reflect on the future.

The other sister jokingly fussed at me: "What are doing the rest of your life? Darn you (only she didn't say darn) for making us think! No, thank you, that was so good and so needed. I am working hard on that."

Somehow I think the first line of that song has stuck with us, focusing us, probably frustrating us too when other pressing personal responsibilities give us absolutely no time to pursue things that we would like to spend our time doing.

It made me determined to find more time to write. I began researching self-publishing as that seemed to be the only way I'd ever get published. For years, scribbling, scribbling, always scribbling. One short story and one magazine article published, then years of writing novels, never daring to submit them after the first rejection, too much fear of trying to promote them if one had been accepted. It was in the writing process that I found joy, not for me the search to publish, the marketing, phone calls, meetings. Rejection.

And yet as I heard Frank Sinatra's voice in my mind over and over, I realized that I wanted something more than just writing my stories. My sisters had suggested that I write a blog but I shied away from the idea because of the tech knowledge required. Still, I was spending chunks of my evenings enjoying my favorite blogs. Could I do it too? I knew if I did it could only be about what I knew--our house here and our life in it and my passion for houses and the stories of people who lived in them.

There is a quote from Diana Vreeland that sums up why I read about houses and the lives of the people who live in them, in books and on blogs. I feel strange quoting the esteemed editor-in-chief of Vogue from 1967-1971--can you imagine the expression on her face if she heard that I was presuming to quote her?--but when I first read what she wrote I said, "Yes, yes, yes!"

"Few things are more fascinating than the opportunity to see how other people live
during their private hours--in rooms they love, gardens they have planted,
among their personal possessions, pursuing their favorite interests,
enjoying their domestic arrangements to fit the pattern of their individual lives."

Isn't that what we bloggers write about, our own and others domestic arrangements? So I dropped "Across the Way" into the big pool of blogs for the sheer joy of it, trying not to care whether a small ripple appears and possibly grows or not. As an amateur I plod ahead writing posts, begging R.H. to take just one more photograph, trying to visit my blog roll friends and others faithfully, leaving applause for them, comforted and inspired by my visits to them, often astounded at the sheer talent out there,  rejoicing with their good news and often crying at their sad news.

Sometimes I get a little discouraged when there is so little response to mine. Then I remember how for one year and nine months, after I discovered the world of blogs, I read them daily, loving new discoveries, and yet never daring to follow or comment because that dreaded message would pop up wanting me to open a google account and I had no idea what that was about.

So, to any readers who might be reading this blog and never comment--and I have had two lovely emails from people who told me they were among my "silent" readers--and to those wonderful blogging friends I have made in the last two months, and to my family who check in regularly to see what Mom/Grandma/Mimi/Sister has to say, part of what I will do in 2013 is write on this blog.

I encourage myself with this much appreciated quote from G.K. Chesterton: "A thing worth doing at all is worth doing badly."

I like to think that the song, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman--does their little tune "The Way We Were" sound a tiny bit familiar to you?--gave me the courage to attempt something risky, something different, something that will matter to me and might to someone else. For anyone who has given their valuable time to read through this long post, I would like to challenge you to ponder this question as 2013 is just beginning:

"What are you doing the rest of your life?"

If you feel like writing about it here in a comment I would certainly like to read it, but more importantly, just keep it in your heart. And please don't get mad at me if you can't get Frank Sinatra's voice out of your mind.

[I just tried to do a link here to Old Blue Eyes singing this song on Youtube but it failed. I am so tech challenged.]

24 comments:

  1. I don't get a lot of comments either. I know that when I read people's blogs and leave comments, I get more comments back. But I don't have as much time to leave comments like I used to. I read most of my blogs on my Google Reader.

    I have a couple of friends that want to be writers. They belong to a writer's group. I also know of some bloggers who belong to online writer's groups. I don't do that. I just blog, lol!

    As for the meme linkup, I will love to have you! You don't have to do anything big. Just look around you each week and think about one thing you'd like to do to bless your family and make your home sing. It might be something as simple as lighting a candle or picking flowers or going to bed early or whatever.

    Sometimes, I decide to clean something or cook something, and sometimes it's something in my attitude or character that I need to work on. A lot of it is repeat stuff, lol! I always can find something to clean or work on, haha.

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  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYHO2trMKq0

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  4. I was trying to post a link for you mom but I can't seem to post a click-able one.

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  5. I typed a long comment. Alas it is gone. I will be caring for my parents.

    Our conversation at the table has become a series of questions, such as,"Did you feed the dogs? " or "Have you picked up the paper?'

    I enjoy reading you posts. Have a wonderful day from middle TN!

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  6. That song is one of my favorites. I've always loved it.

    Be comforted. I wrote for almost a year with one or two or, sometimes, zero comments. It takes a while to build up a readership. I've been at this almost 5 years and I've learned that I have to be patient. Also, Dewena, many of us who are longtime bloggers have noticed that comments are decreasing in general. There are so many blogs now and, of course, there is social medial. All of that contributes to less comments.

    I, for one, am so glad you started blogging.

    xo
    Claudia

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  7. Whoops. That's social media. Typo.

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  8. Great post, Dewena. Much to ponder.
    I loved your comment about reading blogs but never replying because of the dreaded Google account thing. I was in the same boat until a month ago! So I started tennesseecountryliving.blogspot.com
    Looking forward to reading more of your blog.
    Ray

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  9. I agree with Claudia, the comments have been decreasing. When I first discovered blogging three or four years ago, I just read four or five blogs. Except for one, all those bloggers have quit for medical reasons or family problems. Sometimes you just need a real person to talk to. LOL! I really enjoy your quotes and the depth at which you write! You are a very good writer!
    Glad we connected.

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  10. Dewena, I remember when I first started reading blogs, I tried to leave comments, and a message about it not being secure would pop up, and I'd exit the blog immediately! Do you know there is a new term in the new dictionary for a song you can't get out of your head? It's called an ear worm! I think that's kind of appropriate. I love the way you turned a line from the song into a thought-provoking post, and I love your sisters' responses to your question. Believe it or not, I am also a wannabe writer, but I've never even had the nerve to submit anything for publication. I know that first rejection would bring out my inner critic, and I'd never write another word! I have a second blog (which has been completely ignored since the birth of our grandson) where I link to writing memes. I love getting a prompt to write something, and it is great practice for me to attempt to limit myself to a certain # of words. As you can probably tell, that is not easy for me. I knew you were a writer the first time I read your blog. You are so good at it. Happy New Year! laurie

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  11. This post is precious and so succinctly expresses how I feel at times. My current blog has been up for a couple of years and I feel that I have done everything to encourage followers but few have stepped up. You've expressed it so well I will link to it on my page.

    May we both be blessed with oodles of new followers in the new year!

    Sami

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  12. I've looked back in my archives, at comment numbers. I will celebrate 6 years in blogland, in March. My comments have decreased measurably in the past couple of years. I see lots of visitors at the Back Porch, but not as many comments. I know folks are reading though.
    I enjoyed your comment today. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a note.

    What am I doing the rest of my life? Doing as I have the previous 70 years, I suppose, taking one day at a time, as it comes. Watching out for J, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in Oct. He has several health issues. Neither of us allow these challenges to "get us down". We keep on going along and enjoying life. I love the creative outlet blogging brings and will continue as long as it makes me happy and as long as I find something to photograph and write a little something about.

    I hear that song now. Not unpleasant at all...Laurie described it well...an ear worm.

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  13. Well, you know that song is seared in my brain for the night and will probably be on replay tomorrow as well. I am glad I found you here- I am glad you are blogging- I am glad to follow and comment. I think comments wax and wane and people move on when they find something that calls their name. It does take time to read and comment but it is something I love doing as it connects me to those that think like I do-people that "get" blogging! Blessings- xo Diana

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  14. Dewena, I have read your blog since you began, but I just don't seem to always have the time to comment. Sorry! I work on my blog, have an Etsy shop and that combined with the everyday routine seems to consume my time. For the " rest of my life" I plan on living each day to it's fullest and enjoy every minute of it. Right now I Amos grateful to be where I am in my life and be enjoying all of the blessings of it.

    Enjoy your writing - you do it beautifully!

    Judy

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  15. Sorry, I saw the error - I am so - but couldn't correct it!

    Judy

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  16. Saw that you had commented on my blog and that I didn't recognize your name so I popped over to visit you! We have been on vacation in Florida and loved your comment that you and your kids counted certain kinds of cars too! Fun car games for sure! Love your post about the rest of our lives! I just retired a few months ago and work occasionally as a fill-in nurse but now have time to do the things I loved before working outside the home. I wanted to be sure I didn't work myself into the ground and couldn't enjoy things like travel, gardening and keeping a home so I retired at 55. I do think it is important to give back to the community so I tutor a little hispanic boy in reading with a group of volunteers from our church. I am focusing on family and home now and not my career or money. I feel so blessed that I am able to do so with a supportive husband. Thanks for your visit and I enjoyed visiting you! I am your newest follower!
    Miss Bloomers

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  17. I think no matter how old you are you have to set goals and not just I'm going to lose 10lbs this year goals but life changing goals. Bryan and I have written out goals that we want to see come to fruition over the next 2 years, there's something about literally writting down goals; you become accountable to them and they become real! I'm going to be 45 this year and I feel like my life has just begun. And it has, a wonderful new chapter has opened and I want t squeeze every opportunity out of! So...I want to be a difference maker, in whatever sphere of influence I exist. All of this is of course under the leading and blessing of God who I know wants me to be proactive in life and not complacent. Mom, you've finally done what you love to do and it's making a difference in the lives of many people. even if we don't always comment it's making a difference!

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    1. Yeah! Our daughter left a comment! Even though I have learned to respond to comments by emailing them back and/or leaving a comment or their blog, I must reply to this one here. Christy, I loved reading this and am so happy that you and Bryan are doing this, and I know that we will rejoice with you as you work towards those goals. This new chapter will be amazing as you live it. God bless you both. We love you, Mom & Dad

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  18. Deweena, you are such a wonderful writer, you should never have any doubt... I love your posts... I love the way you make me think (and everyone else!)... please don't ever stop. I'm so glad you started this blog!

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  19. you are a very good writer and I am glad you have a blog :)

    As to comments, I tend to comment about half of the time when i read a blog or I might read a few posts but just comment on one. Not sure how others are ....

    Or, come to think of it, I might get interested in a blog and bookmark it, go back and read a few older posts and explore it a bit, and then comment on a recent post

    Having said THAT, if I get a comment then I try to visit that person's blog within a few days ( especially if they are new to me ) but I don't usually reply on my own blog ; does that make sense.

    So anyway, lol, Happy New Year and keep writing! :)

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  20. Deweena, Your blog truly inspires me! I wish I was a better writer like you...I secretly read your blog for a long, long time until I formally followed and, I am glad I did!! I don't often get to reading blogs until my time usually early in the morning or late at night.. so sometimes I am way behind... I am new to blog land so, I don't know how to respond to comments left for me... It doesn't bother me that I get comments really because I know family is reading it..Just the other night at a family get-together my cousins told me that they read my blog then a uncle said the same thing then that started a whole conversation about commenting.. they said they did not want to bother getting an acct and assured me that they were reading....I was blown away!! I love your post don't stop writing!!! and as far as that song... I will you tube it cause I have never heard of it..

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  21. Dewena, I hope I have finally figured out how to leave comments. Your help was so appreciated. I love all of your blogs and have actually been brought to tears on some. What wonderful memories. I too have been drawn to "What are you doing for the rest of your life". It has truly made me stop and think. For now, I am taking steps, little steps, but at least I am moving forward.

    I look forward to many more of your written gems.

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    1. Teresa, I have to reply to you here because I am so excited that you are here. We both will take the little steps forward and one day we will be surprised to see how far we have come!
      Love you,
      Dewena

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  22. Hi Dewena,
    I finally got my computer fixed so I can be up and running again. Mostly, I'm on vacation for awhile~~company and lots of it~~so I'm taking peeks here and there at others' blogs. So glad to have you, your blog, and your kind spirit in my life this new year!
    I'll be back soon :)
    Becky

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