My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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 A post from a summery Toronto before I vanish into Conferenceland in a few hours:

It’s my daughter’s 37th birthday today, and I won’t see her until next week. I’d considered various presents for this kind, generous woman, but what she wants, especially this birthday, is money. Since getting her driver’s license in January she has been happily renting cars on the weekends and scooting about town, so last weekend, when the only vehicle left was a truck, she took it and chauffeured her family to the country. At one point there, she backed up using only the truck’s internal camera rather than also looking out the back window. Mistake – there was a storage container behind the truck the camera couldn’t see – big crunch. Big big crunch. And it turns out her credit card company “does not cover luxury vehicles or trucks.”

So what she’s getting this birthday is money.

My son, too, had an accident – playing baseball with his new team on Sunday, he twisted his ankle, which is swollen, black and blue. It’s only a sprain but he won’t be able to work for a week. Luckily, the last time this happened, about a decade ago, he was given a special crutch for someone 6’8″, and I kept it. So his special tall crutch is here waiting for him. The trouble with Swedish death cleaning: it means you probably shouldn’t keep your son’s special tall crutch for ten years in case he needs it again.

And then, something happened to me. I met with a former student yesterday, who’s a successful editor now retired and learning, with trepidation, how to become a writer. I asked if she’d read my memoir and comment, and if she liked it, possibly mention it to a publisher. My fantasy: she’d say, I adore this book, don’t touch a word, I have contacted all my friends in publishing and said, you MUST publish this.

You know where this is going, don’t you? That is not what she said. She had many things to say, but none of them were about getting the book in its current form published. I have to digest what happened, which will take awhile, because I’m always ready to hear negative things about my work. So now I don’t know if she’s right and I need to start the book all over again, throwing away two years of work, or if I need to ignore her. Or something else. No idea.

Yesterday, my friend Judy, now Acting President of the Canadian Creative Nonfiction Collective, arrived from Vancouver and came for dinner. We sat outside on the deck, still hot at 7 p.m., and while we ate, I watched a pair of sparrows mating on my neighbour’s roof. Every day the garden is more green, more full of life exploding.

We’re a bit battered today, here in this corner of the world, but full of life too.

PS I just sent Anna a text: Happy Birthday you wonderful glorious woman.

And she wrote back, “Thank you to the wonderful glorious woman who brought me into the world and survived raising me! I am eternally grateful to you for always being my biggest supporter in literally every way. I love you so much Mum.” Heart emoji.

I think I’ll make it through the day.



2 Responses to “onward!”

  1. theresa says:

    It's never easy, is it? I wish you courage, re: your work, and I also think you are lucky (having done the hard and loving work) with your family. Finding the balance is the thing. But staying alive to the birds and the green world opening, as you are, as you do, is a wonderful thing.

  2. beth says:

    Right now, I just have to survive three solid days of conference. I'm exhausted already and it's barely begun. Thanks for checking in, Theresa.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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