Archive for November, 2013

Failing Forward

PersevereHave you ever felt so overwhelmed that you thought you were drowning?  You knew something just had to give, but weren’t sure what.  That’s what happened to me in November. I started off the month strong, fired up to do National Novel Writing Month, closing the family business, selling a house, determined to find new streams of income, and excited for the looming holidays.  And then it hit me like a train; reality.

As the date of our house closing was literally closing in, we needed to decide where we wanted to move and find a dwelling, fast.  Needless to say, NaNoWriMo fell to the wayside.  I still do have big plans for the book; they just don’t involve writing it in 2013.  I don’t think of it as failing, really.  I think of it as a postponing of sorts.  I still have the desire to crank out that shoddy first draft in about 30 days, but maybe in a month or two.

I know some may think of failure as not meeting an intended objective, maybe even thinking of it as the opposite of success.  Not me.  I’m thinking of it as failing forward.  I’m looking at this with my usual cock-eyed optimism.  We’ve found a great new place.  Thanksgiving was wonderful and full of family.  We are generally healthy and happy.  Christmas will be a little different this year, having most of our things boxed up.  But I do hope to find and decorate the tree and do a fair amount of baking.

All in all I guess I’ve learned a few things this November.  I know that I cannot do everything myself.  As much as it pains me to admit, I’m not superhuman and need some help from time to time.  I know that I do not need as much “stuff” as I have, and my downsizing/donating will make someone’s holidays happier.  And most of all, as long as you have a good support team anything is possible.


Thanksgiving, Period

Sale Shopper

Here is something that popped up when I looked up Thanksgiving on the internet, “Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It precedes Black Friday.”  Really?  That is what Thanksgiving is?!  I felt kinda sick.  Apparently the holiday has devolved to just another meal standing between us and shopping with a few thousand strangers.

 Pie on Plate

Whatever happened to special meals steeped in tradition?  At what point did we disregard grandma’s sacred recipes and instead opt for standing in line at a big box store?  Lunacy if you ask me.  Not that you would.  I host Thanksgiving at my house.  I absolutely love it.  I look forward to it every year, sifting through my recipes weeks before, deciding which ones to serve.  Many of them are served every year, but I still try to sneak in a new one or two, just to keep everyone guessing.






Now, I’m not pooh-poohing shopping; I love to shop as much as the next girl.  In fact, my daughters and I usually partake in the Black Friday craziness fairly early in the morning.  But now that it is starting on Thanksgiving…nope.  I just can’t do it.  I don’t care how great the deals are, I’m not giving up my holiday.  I’m not giving up my football.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you have to eat the big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. I know many folks have very different dishes for their traditions.  But what I love is having our boys in the kitchen sneaking meat off the tray as dad is carving the bird.  I love that this is usually the only time I make my Captain Morgan Pumpkin Cake, and the kids wait for it all year.  I love that we have such a big group together, that is it noisy and chaotic.  And most of all, I love our only rule of the day; Eat Lots, Talk Loud.  Because, after all, it is Thanksgiving.  Period.

Captain Pumpkin Cake

Write the Book You Want to Read

Write the BookThere are a lot of quotes about writing, I mean probably thousands of them.  But recently one jumped out at me from the blog Live to Write – Write to Live.  I think it was Jamie Wallace’s post that contained the phrase “Write the book you want to read”.  I know it’s been similarly quoted and maybe she used this from someone else.  But it really struck a chord in me.

Since it is the middle of November, I am in the midst of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal is 50,000 words in thirty days.  Suffice it to say I’m way behind.  But I have always worked better under pressure (yes, deadlines amuse me!) so I am quite confident I will finish.  I plan on a big push this weekend of about 20,000 words and that will catch me up nicely.

Part of the reason I am lagging is the upheaval in our household with closing a business and selling a house.  There’s a great deal of uncertainty.  For a control freak like me, that can be enough to induce near-insanity.  Bless my husband, the Saint, for not just putting up with all my nonsense, but actually encouraging me through it all.

I’m actually very excited about this year’s book.  It took me a great deal of pondering to come up with the format.  It’s about a friend of mine, so it’s mostly a biography.  But to keep it moving along, and to hold the excitement level, another writer-friend of mine suggested I insert a parallel, fictional, story that gets woven into the “meat” of the book.  (Thanks again, Eric!)  It really was a great deal of planning to get this right.  And if any of you have seen me wandering around seemingly mumbling and staring into space, it’s just my way of trying to work things out.  Walks are usually a sure thing to get my muse going!

So off I go, Stuff Smith’s jazz violin wafting through the house to put me in the writing mood.  Submerged in piles of paper, computer on my lap, Mini Schnauzer wedged between my leg and the arm of the chair, I will write on.  I will make up a story I want to read, nestled amongst the true story of my dear friend.  Some may wonder what is real and what is made up.  I will know.  My friend will know.  Hopefully others just read it because they want to.


My Old Home

Old RockerFrom my chair at the table I can see all of the dining room and living room.  It’s still dark outside and my house is quiet, only I am awake.  The big beast in the basement clanks and rattles, I hear the water begin to flow through the radiators.

The sign out front says for sale, but we have accepted an offer.  For the time being it feels like living in someone else’s house.  I vacillate between cleaning like a mad woman and letting things go because I know we’re leaving.  I’m not gonna lie; the curtains could use a wash.

I guess I’m happy the showings of the house are done.  That felt more like living in a museum.  Everything needed to be clean and put away, no funny smells or strong food odors.  Although I’m pretty sure what sold it was the fact that the last showing took place the day we were hosting a birthday party.  Dinner was simmering in the oven and homemade brownies and bread cooled on the counter.  I left a note apologizing for the cooking aroma.  Yep, and no guilt, either, I’d do it again.

Now I look around the two rooms at the family photos.  We’ve had so many good times here.  Suddenly I’m melancholy, sad to leave behind our 102-year-old labor of love.

Soon the sky is slightly lightening towards the lake.  The traffic is starting to stack up on the avenue with people rushing off to work.  Upstairs I hear the push-button light switches clicking as the floor creeks over my head.  I recognize the sounds of my caboose starting her day.  The old house pops and moans, feeling her age today.  From the top of the stairs the quiet is shattered, “Mom, food.”  Ah, back to reality.

Writing Through the Change


November first, where did the year go?  I mentioned last week that there were big changes coming for our business, Wilmes Hospitality.  It took a lot of discussion and debate over the last few months, but we have decided to shutter the Fresh Air Lodging green certification program.  As of today that is no longer under the Wilmes umbrella of services.

As I said in the last post, change is inevitable.  We thought we identified a need, or better yet, a niche.  So we jumped with both feet out of our comfort zone and plunged into the icy waters.  It was a huge step, and many said we were crazy—you know, that internet thing is never going to catch on.  But we knew if we didn’t at least try the Fresh Air concept we would spend the rest of our lives wondering “what if”.  That is not how I want to live.

What did we learn from this?  Well, we learned many things about starting a business, branding, and working together in a family business.  It was a lot of hard work, but it was fun, too.  And I think we learned a great deal about ourselves in the process.  Jumping in takes nerve and perseverance.  Some days we looked to each other to buoy ourselves through the rough waters.  But in the end, it was a great experience, a learning experience.

So what’s next for Wilmes Hospitality?  Well, we are still looking at what will stay under our umbrella.  Consulting is always an option, and that has been on the docket since we started.  But since my time was spent in the promotional arena for Fresh Air Lodging, I am pulling on a different hat, but in the same style.  I will continue to write, and hopefully as a hired pen.  But rest assured, faithful subscribers, I will continue to post, just on a wider arena of topics.

And since it is November, it is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I am again taking the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I did it last year, and frankly it wasn’t nearly as hard as I anticipated.  So today I am embarking on a writing journey, hoping to pound out a decent draft.  The book is about the late jazz violinist Stuff Smith and his widow, who just happens to be my friend.  Fifty thousand words…Go!