What are your October plans and goals? This is the question my friend Paula, who was the first blogger I knew IRL, posed in this post. She started that post by recapping her September. I know other bloggers, and just a bunch of other people in general, have expressed a view that many people seem to share – that Autumn feels like a beginning.
I know, because of who I am (a Jewish mother), that the school year and the Jewish calendar year both start in the fall. So, maybe I’m also in the camp that thinks of this season, of pumpkins and other plenty, as the start of the year, or at least as the start of something! This fall, I am finally, I think, near the end of the very long and painful and draining and difficult journey to where I can really think about and plan and look forward to starting over again with some hope and relief and relaxation and optimism for the future.
I am currently “feathering my (new) nest” as I am starting to furnish my apartment so it’s a convenient place for me to live. The convenience I’m talking about here is having space and place to unpack and really see what I think I will use of the stuff I brought here with me. So far, those “keepers” seem to have been just right for that purpose.
From a glance at my calendar over the last half of 2022, I can see, again in this fall season (and even as far back as late summer), that a more fulfilling and busy time has started for me. One thing I know for sure is that everything I’ve had to deal with, all the tumult over at least the last 5 years and probably all the other upheavals over the last 10, seem not to have changed what I desire in my life for the rest of it!
I want to learn more about a whole lot of esoteric and intellectual subjects from people who have spent a lot of time with them. Philosophy, politics, religion, history, generally areas of study where we look back to help us move forward – mainly as a society but also as individuals. I just finished OLLI classes on Putin’s Russia, the history of Iran and its relations with the U.S, the philosophy of Einstein and other big thinkers and a philosophical view of the Manhattan Project. I found it hearteningly coincidental that key figures in the latter two just happened to be scientists (like many of the most interesting people I met in Oak Ridge). In the upcoming weeks I will be learning about banned books, stories behind hit songs (mainly from my youth or even before then) and the Flint, Michigan, Sit-down Strike of 1936-37. Fascinating stuff!
I have also pursued some more down-to-earth learning opportunities. Many of these have come to me through the local senior center. I learned more than I probably wanted to know, being a processed-food addicted baby boomer, from the recovering-from-cancer-and-Jewish nutritionist who taught the class. An added bonus were the $10 produce vouchers we got to spend at the small local farmer’s market. I was surprised that the instructor, who eats more fresh food than I do, had never tried an Asian melon. She appreciated the sight and taste of the melon I bought at the farmer’s market while I appreciated her suggestions for alternate ways to enjoy bananas. Most of those alternative bananas are available at Trader Joe’s. I do not frequent TJ’s nor did I frequent farmer’s markets before this class. I am now working through way too many – but delicious – locally grown apples and pears and radishes and snack size peppers from my last market visit. Too bad their celery and TJ’s processed and vacuum sealed bananas were so disappointing!
The last farmer’s market for the year is in October, but I have already moved on to aspects of my spirit I have wanted to develop for as long as my nest has been empty (of my kids). My daughters may or may not consider what I finally produce someday from my writing and genealogy passions and pursuits, though I’d like to think they will, and maybe even get some benefit from this work I am looking forward to finally get to. Even if they don’t, I know I want to do this for my own benefit and relief and expression. Just this last week I went to presentations by two authors where I was able to ask them questions about their process, mainly about how they find their projects and are able to get them done. This already helped to me to target a few subjects out of all of those that have been floating around in my mind for quite a long time.
I took some stabs at a few of them in my so-old-they-are-now-shamefully-hidden blog posts and in the few vignettes I wrote for the 3 or 4 or 5 memoir writing classes I took in which I mainly only wrote notes of what the teacher said. I even signed up for a Hay House FREE 4-Day Book Writing Challenge that starts online tomorrow, and I have already taken a dive into the Aspiring Author’s Tool Kit (5 Free Resources to Kick-Start Your Writing) that came with it and discovered, to my surprise and delight, they support what I learned from the author sessions I attended last week. I’m hoping to have a similar experience tomorrow night when I attend for the first time a meeting of the writers’ group that is sponsored by the local library.
I spent a day last week with a new friend I met online through some other websites. Laurie also has a personal blog and a business page promoting a writing group she used to run, and she has been generous with her time and gas as my personal guide around Grand Rapids. As I learned more about Laurie’s writing and the technique she teaches, she recommended It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond (Artist’s Way) as a good reference for starting a memoir as what I consider myself to be – just your average baby boomer who is now past the midpoint of an infamous (as in not famous or profound) life. I read The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity in yet another writing class quite a while ago and was impressed enough to keep it on my shelf for future reference.
The next step I will take in “feathering my nest” this month will support the genealogy work I have jumped a little further into since my move. Next week, when I get some labor to assist, I will be picking up some bookshelves. Even if I don’t keep them for my next move, or if they end up not fitting with additional furniture I will buy for my new place, they are desperately needed to facilitate organization of the earlier mentioned important stuff I moved with me. These must haves of course include a lot of books. They also include a lot of photo albums and loose photos and other papers and memorabilia from my past and from family members’ pasts, known to me or not.
I joined the Kalamazoo Valley Genealogical Society over the summer. They held the first meeting of their year at the end of September. I attended that one remotely as well as the first in a series of Skills Sessions they are offering. I already view the latter as a good way to kickstart and streamline (i.e. finally move on and at the same time narrow) what I want to do with all this stuff. I expect to be at the October meeting in person, again at the local library, when the manager of its Creation Station, will, I hope, demonstrate how to digitize some of my older family photos AND old home movies.
Finally, even before I moved into my apartment, while I was still living in my daughter’s basement, I signed up for the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) 2022 Conference. The whole thing was done virtually and the presentations I registered for can still be seen through the end of October. I’ve done several already and expect to get through them all at least once by then. I know my family’s roots in America were only planted, even at their earliest, in late 19th century New York, and I’ve already learned “sources and methods” (a currently en vogue term thanks to Trump’s ignorance of the rules for maintaining some degree of classified information security) to help me search for the European origins of those roots as well as where they may have spread after being planted.
I will also be spending a few days this month in Nashville with my sister who will take me to Vanderbilt Orthopaedics for a consultation to see if, how, when, where and by whom my left hip will be replaced.