The In Between Time

This is the week in the year when I feel most in-between.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are over and a New Year waits in the wings. I feel like the director of a play in which I hold back the actors for just another moment. Not yet, it’s not quite time, we’re not ready, please wait.

This is the week I launder the tablecloths from Christmas dinner, recycle dented gift boxes and toss out leftovers nobody wants to eat. It’s the week to relax and enjoy the pile of new books I received and to binge watch The Crown and A Place to Call Home, an Australian drama my husband and I both love. We’re both retired from our careers and enjoy artistic pursuits and volunteer work, but this week even those things take a back seat to just lounging and reflecting, reading…and eating.

As a writer of creative nonfiction, I’m a “reflector” by trade. This in-between time seems made for me. No rush, nowhere I have to go. I’m preparing for a party in the New Year, but even that feels relaxed, checking if we have enough wine, beer, plastic ware and ice.

I journal every day, but this week I read about other people doing the same. The newspapers, internet, and even TV all offer stories about new resolutions and looking back. It’s quite a lot of pressure to do something.

But not right now. I took a year off from teaching to finish my first novel. The second one is outlined, but I just can’t get into it yet. I have a new memoirs class coming up in March, so I need to plan. I’ve published four essays this year, and I’d like to write more. I finished editing A Woman of Worth, a project I’d been working on for a couple of years.  I have an idea for another book-length memoir. But none of these projects is calling me right now.

I could be anxious about that, but I feel lucky I can stay here a while. The kids are grown and living their own lives. Whatever I choose to do or not do is up to me. The weather is freezing cold and we’re in between snow storms here in southeastern PA. I know another one is coming but we’re not sure when.

So, this is the week I ignore the inner urge to “do something productive.” I read over the Christmas cards and newsletters, remember the leisurely conversations shared with family and friends by the fireplace, and allow gratitude for the love, warmth and companionship that graces this time of year.

There is a certain pressure to make a “to do” list for 2018. I know I work best when I choose one project to put most of my energy behind. This in between week feels a bit uneasy, but I’m going to stick with it. If we hurtle from project to project, we don’t fully appreciate what we’ve accomplished. We don’t allow ourselves to enjoy having written, being published, hosting a dinner party, receiving gifts. I’ll meditate every day and let myself off the hook for productivity for now.

What about you? What do you do when you’re not sure what to do next?

Comment and I’ll put your name in the drawing for my next giveaway: The Promise of Pierson Orchard by Kate Brandes.  Written by an environmental scientist, it’s the story of what happens when fracking comes to a rural community, told through the eyes of a family already breaking apart. Speaking of what to do next! You’re sure to enjoy this balanced look at both sides of the environmental debate.

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The winner of last month’s drawing is Nannette Benson-Nicol. She gets an autographed copy of An Uncertain Path by Sandra Carey Cody. Congratulations, Nannette!

16 thoughts on “The In Between Time

  1. Interesting post. I have been traveling and writing for almost three years. Most of my lufe is being unsure what I will do next. But in a good way. Usually when I wonder what to do next, I ask myself whether I want to return home and settle in. And then I buy a plane ticket. Happy new year.

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  2. Like you, I try to stay in the moment, knowing that the muse comes knocking when I least expect her. I’m working on a new book but no rush as I have published a novel and two memoirs and two anthologies in the last seven years. The possibilities for a writer feel both limitless and exhausting. For now I enjoy lunch with a friend, holidays with family, a reminder that nothing lasts forever as many are no longer with us. Happy New Year, Linda! Here’s to another great writing year for you.

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  3. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate that delicate time between what was last year, and what’s coming up fast, Linda. Some time to renew our energies is important, and your meditation and reading sound great.
    New grandbaby creating renewal here in a wonderfully different way. Definitely more labor intensive, but blissful.
    Hope your New Year is full to bursting with joy, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been on a journey of self discovery for the past year, following a major depressive episode, during which I discovered that I suffer with PTSD. This actually was helpful, in that the diagnosis has made it clear why I have been so damaged for most of my adult life. Since my boys and families, save one, live in distant states, my Christmas has always been extended into this “in between” time, so I enjoy the time with family. Next week I am returning to writing, painting my apartment, rehearsing a play, and teaching.

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    1. What a journey, MaryLou! Sorry to hear about the PTSD but I do understand how knowing what it is was helpful. Glad you’re enjoying the week with your boys. Sounds like your life is busy! Happy New Year!

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  5. Linda, I felt a deep sense of acceptance of “the now” in your piece, and I identify. I am beginning to see the moments where I stop and simply “be” as most precious and most valuable to my mental, emotional and spiritual good health. Entering into each moment in time with intention and anticipation has helped me to linger and enjoy – and to contemplate the meaning of what I am experiencing. I suppose the fact that I am in the later years of my life has a great deal to do with my new focus. I am joyously free to spend my time as I like. And so, though living a humble life materially and dealing with many physical issues, I am feeling abundantly rich in what truly gives my life meaning. Sometimes I even feel led to document the newly discovered awakenings in my journal or my memoir. At other times, I simply savor!

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  6. I appreciate this in between time as well. However, as a retiree, I have to make sure it doesn’t extend to the whole next year! When I’m not sure what to do next, I take solace in both Yoga and walking. That’s what rejuvenates me so i can move on to what’s next! And, who knows, maybe that will include some writing of my own!

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