A New Year of Creativity – 2018

 

© 2017 Skyview by JRobin Whitley

Creativity is my passion. At the writing of this blog, my life dreams are coming true with three published books, a CD, and more creative projects becoming manifest. Each year of my life has been filled with poetry, reflection, music, meditation, and all of the good that life has to offer. This new year promises more of this goodness.

January 1 started out with guitar work. Then I found a song I had started writing posted on one of my recorders. Got some great photos of the snow that happened on New Years Eve. The wind wasn’t blowing that night so I didn’t exactly “ring in the new year” but it’s coming into my life with promise and hope.

Chimes

This will be my first year without my partner and wife of 12 years. In many ways, it saddens me. I’ve always believed in true love and feel that she was my one. We can’t change situations or other people though. We can only change our attitudes and viewpoints. That being said, my disabilities have shown me how precious and fleeting life is. We mustn’t waste one minute for wishing for the past.

One of the things I’ve learned since my dad died, is that in looking at the past, when love has happened, love remains. All the bad of the past fades in the light of love that shines on. Love lasts when nothing else does.

One of the hardest challenges for many people however is learning to love the self. This is not in the manner of narcissisim, which is an entirely selfish and self-serving love. To love oneself means to live the life that makes you glad to be alive. Be the person you want to wake up beside of in the morning, because no matter what, the one person who is always there is you. Allow yourself to be okay with who you are.

 

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.”
~Golda Meir

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December Night

It is another cold December night, silent as it flies by. The dog is sleeping soundly in the bed, growling at something in her dreams. The snow still blankets the forest with soft curves over the land. The clock above me ticks. I always love the sound of a tick-tock. There’s no sleep for me tonight. I think it’s because I’ve slept all week trying to get over a cold and keep it out of my chest. Though, it could be the cup of coffee I drank at ten thirty.

Trying to sleep and thinking about that cup of coffee, I miss those times when I could drink coffee late into the night. Of course, there were term papers to write and I had to stay up. My insomnia never seemed to help me out on those late nights. Tonight wakefulness occurs due to something other than insomnia. It may be the caffeine, but it might also be this beautiful night calling to me. I have no good pictures of the snowy night, only the bright white days.

The last walk with the dog was peaceful. The snow on the path has softened from being solid ice. Birdie just looked for deer. While she looked at the houses below and the woods between them, I looked at the snow. The trees made shadows. Debris from the trees made patterns in the snow. All was silent except for a saw of some sort coming from my new neighbor’s house. The light on the garage was still on. They are preparing the house for their coming marriage. I try to think of something to give as a welcome to the neighborhood or a wedding gift. I don’t know them yet though. Gift giving seems not to be my forte anyway.

Trying to go to sleep earlier, my mind raced about the holidays. I thought of the days past and how little money I’ve had for gifts in my lifetime. Though, I always put as much heart and thought into a gift as possible. I don’t miss the stress of shopping or trying to find the perfect gift. I was never a shopper, though at one time I enjoyed Christmas shopping. I still wasn’t very good at it even then. Some people have a knack of knowing just what a person needs or wants. Gift giving has lost its appeal for me. What I want to give is not as tangible as a present. It is about presence however.

Presence that gives of the heart, mind, and soul imbues me with a desire to reciprocate.  That powerful presence can be given in something as simple as a sincere smile. Kindness goes a long way in these times when everyone seems to be fighting or accusing. Sitting with a grieving friend is priceless. I’ve had friends care for me as I grieve, and there are no words to convey the power of that understanding.

Drinking the last bit of coffee, a community of witnesses, friends, family surrounds me. Those who have died did not abandon me for I carry them in my heart. The last time I saw my dad well was near Christmas. He wanted one last Christmas with his family. Yet, his love is ever with us. The magic of grandparents’ homes still warms my heart. Carols connect me with my cousins and remind us all of singing around the piano in wonderful harmony.

The dog has awakened and sat behind me; her black eyes staring at my back. She wants me to return to bed. Now I hear her hesitant jump as she tries to get back on the bed. She sleeps close to my leg and lets me know if anything sounds during the night. She watches over me. Somehow, I know my loved ones watch over me too. May you have angels watch over you on this beautiful December night and lead you into glorious day.

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Giving Thanks

Giving thanks is a good thing. Many theologians believe that is humanity’s only purpose in life. Not sure where I stand on that right now because I believe God made us more than that. I do know I don’t celebrate the destruction of the Native American communities. Of course, if the Native Americans had not saved the white people of that long ago time, my family probably would not be here. Most of my descendants came over in the 17th century.

While I am thankful this year, I cannot say I am happy. This is the first Thanksgiving in eleven years without my wife by my side. At first, I planned on hiding out in the condo. Part of me still wishes for the solitude of grief. The other part however wants to embrace the family and friends who still love me and who are still here

Birdie looking for deer.

for me and Birdie. Birdie of course is thankful and happy. As long as she can go with, that dog is happy.

If Birdie could drive she would. She wouldn’t leave me either I bet. I know she is thankful for me. Birdie is also thankful for this condo. She even makes me smile when we come in from a walk and she runs hard as she can in the small space. She then encourages me to play and be happy with her. She knows we are safe here and that this is our new place.

A safe place to live was my goal. Once it was clear that my wife wanted a long separation, I had to find a place to live that was affordable, safe, and quiet that also accepted a small dog.

Quiet is as much for healing as it is for sanity. Here on the mountain, there is plenty of solitude. At first I thought I might have moved to a ghost town, but I moved here at the end of the summer tourist season. I look forward to ski season. They are already making snow at Beech Mountain Ski Resort.

When we returned from my book reading the other day, Beech Mountain had a nice covering of snow. It was both exciting and scary. I was thankful that the roads were clear since I haven’t gotten snow tires yet. When we made it to the condo, Birdie was excited to see the snow even though the temperature was at 28 and we didn’t have her coat.

Thankfulness can come from many places in our hearts, our lives, our work. Just because a holiday happens doesn’t mean we won’t grieve the loss of loved ones. Whether we lose someone dear because of death, separation, divorce, moving away, loss is hard and grief inevitable. As I go to my family’s tomorrow, I plan to talk to them about my sadness while also enjoying my time with them. The thing is, life is short. My ex (it still feels weird to say that) knows that I am thankful for her. In an email regarding something else, we expressed our mutual gratitude. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard or sad.

We can be thankful regardless of our emotions for gratitude is acknowledgement of a gift. Whether it’s the gift of a dog’s presence or solitude matters not. Gifts are not those things bought at the store in a holiday rush. The true gifts are those things around us like nature, family, friends, work, love, play. Those are the things that make life worth living. I am thankful that I have a life worth living.

Valle Crucis across from Holy Cross Episcopal Church

 

 

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Release of Debut Novel – October 19, 2017

My debut novel is now released! Release! Ahhh what a great word. Excitement abounds as I announce that my new novel is now available. It was released on October, 19. This date is special to me because it is the birth date of my maternal grandmother. She was a reader and the one grandparent who I would talk to about reading.

It took forever to come up with a blurb. I told my friends that it was easier to write the entire novel than to try and write the small blurb that would get another interested in reading the book.

In Robin’s debut novel, the characters search for meaning in life and a place where all belong. A  story that is a reminiscent mixture of Fried Green Tomatoes and At Home in Mitford, this novel portrays a loving sense of community and home. The rural North Carolina town of Pleasant Quarry becomes a place where all belong.

Readers of the book need to know that I am a country loving person. I grew up in the country around some of the best folk you can ever imagine. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t hard things going on in the South then, because I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement. The only thing I knew growing up was that I wanted to be a hippie because they focused on peace and love.

We grew up around people who told the truth and loved music. It was only later that I began to see and understand the greater struggles around me.

©JRobin Whitley – Rural Haywood County, NC

The community where I grew up focused on loving each other and protecting their children.

I’m sure this is one of the reasons I love rural settings so much. When you live in a rural setting, there is no need to be fake or put on airs. If someone did that growing up, it was always because they were “gettin’ too big for their britches.”

There were gays and lesbians in our community although I didn’t know them personally. I did not know of anyone being mean or unkind to those people. As a result, it was only natural that I wanted to grow up and live in a rural place. Later, I learned that the KKK was still active and that people in the area could hate many kinds of different people, I moved to the city for a time.

Still, my heart belongs to a more rural place. My love of nature and quiet is central to my well-being. For those of you who live in a city, I hope you will catch a glimpse of a place (maybe a time) that gives you pause from the busy-ness. For those who live in the countryside, I hope you recognize your neighbors and way of living. Most of all, my hope in writing this is to tell a good story.

Used with permission

 

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