Testing One’s Mettle

“What are you afraid of?” author Bob Mayer asked at a writing conference, “because that’s what’s holding you back as writers.”

At the time, it was social media–mastering new technology, committing to cranking out a weekly post. But I started a blog, and am glad I did.  Since my first blogpost I’ve made new friends, discovered photographic storytelling, which I love, and crossed a whopper off this writer’s to-do list.

Marriage was another commitment that terrified me, but I faced that fear too.

It took seven years before Thom and I felt brave enough to assume the awesome responsibility of parenthood.  It’s the most joyful, most difficult, most rewarding, and most important undertaking we’d ever signed on for, or ever will.

Whether we choose them ourselves or take what fate throws our way, the most daunting experiences are often the most edifying.

The most challenging ones tend to be the most rewarding.

With the toughest climbs come the best views.

After the kids were old enough to change their own diapers, we thought could rest on our laurels, but there was an unexpected twist to the parent/child relationship.

We raised kids who challenge themselves.  Bea watched her big brother do his math homework, and designed her own “Really Hard Math Problem.”

As they tested their own mettle, and created their own challenges…

…we were forced out of our comfort zones just to keep up.

Thom and I would never have chosen to go to the Amazon jungle if the kids hadn’t been keen to go.

It was hard to watch my kids twist and turn like little spiders on a web as they climbed 200 feet up into the canopy to zipline.  And for the first (and probably last) time in my life, I went ziplining too.  You never know when someone might need a bandaid or some bug repellant.

Only for my kid would I board a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, another thing I swore I’d never do. But it’s good to feel a fire in your belly and rise above your fears.

We are not extreme travelers.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: most of the adventures I have are in my own mind.  But for the sake of my kids, I’ve put on my big girl panties and donned a hard hat once or twice.

Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind.

 I appreciate people who can lure me out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes it’s good to commit to a path with unexpected twists and bends.

I’m sure I’m a better person for it. And if nothing else, Life Outside The Comfort Zone provides great material for a writer.

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Metal.

Hot to Trot!

Last September the kids and I took the perfect road trip down the West Coast.  Travel is my passion, but my nesting instinct is strong.  Those two inclinations might seem to be at odds, but while exploring the  town of Ferndale, CA I saw this hot little vintage set-up parked on the main drag. Bells went off in my head.  Like Pavlov’s dog, I started to salivate, and experienced an almost uncontrollable urge to sidle up to it and polish its chrome.

Check out these digs! I peeked into the windows, and decided where I’d put my bookshelves, what kind of coffee I’d stock the cute little cupboards with, how many pairs of shoes I would bring, where I’d pack my kids into this arrangement.  And, of course, how to charge my laptop.

There is a time to make tracks.  I’ve done the seven countries in five weeks thing, kept up a wicked pace, and lived to tell the tale.  I’ve even spent months at a time on the road in an old VW bus, hauling a beat up Apache tent trailer.

As I get older, I want to stop and smell the coffee.  One day  I’ll take my laptop, and spend a month of the shoulder season at an Italian villa, a thatched roof cottage in the English countryside, or a log cabin in the Tetons.  In the meantime, this combo would be just the ticket!  I wonder if it comes in purple…

I’m an old dog, but I can still learn a new trick or two.   What a wonderful way to cover your miles, fill up your story banks, and crank out that next novel!

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Gloss

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Travel Theme: Vintage Cars.

All words and images ©Naomi Baltuck

Turkey Bones, Garbage Night, and the Celestial Ring Toss

At Thanksgiving we naturally pause to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.  Family, friends, food on the table, a roof overhead.  But in the wake of the holiday, I have many more things to be thankful for.  I am thankful that no one in my house cares if it takes three days to wash up the last sink full of odd dishes left over from the feast.

I am thankful that, after we put my sister and daughter on the airplane for home and school, I had a huge writing project to dive into so I wouldn’t miss them too much. Oh, yes, and for a long weekend to spend in my pajamas finishing up that one last revision on my manuscript.

I am also really really really thankful that I remembered last night was Garbage Night, so I don’t have to live with the last earthly remains of that unfortunate turkey for another week.  I didn’t mind that it was midnight, and crispy cold; I was just thankful the rain had finally stopped.  As I was wheeling our recycling out, still wearing my PJs, I looked up and saw an icy ring all around the moon, the nighttime equivalent of catching a shining rainbow as it bridges the sky.

It reminded me of playing Ring Toss with the moon, and of what a ring-toss life can be.  Have you ever been to a carnival and tried your hand at it?  It’s not as easy as it looks.  (You can tell by the size of the prize.)   I’ve read that the secret is to put a good spin on the ring, or to toss it in a high arch so it drops down onto the neck of the peg, or even to send it flying end over end.

So many possibilities for success…and for failure.  Think about all the chances we take every day, the energy we expend, the goals we all strive for, big and little, long term and short term.  It’s hard, and there are no guarantees.  My advice is to save your dollar, forget the ring, and the ring toss, too.  In Africa, the Maprusi people say, “If you see an old woman chasing after a rabbit, you can be fairly certain she has already caught more than one.”

 I want to be like that old woman.  Only instead of rabbits, I have my eye on the moon, and I’m reaching for it with all my might.

You just never know…I might even catch it!

All words and images c2012 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for other interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

Bright and Shiny

Did I ever tell you about Pandora?  She was really bright for a hamster, although she never did learn to flush.

My daughter Bea also showed intellectual promise very early on.

We read to her.

We played dress up.

Lots of  dress up.

Dress up in ones and twos and threes…

Oh, yes, and dress up en masse!

 

Did I mention dress up?

We told lots and lots of stories from near and far, and soon she was telling stories too.

We saw something of the world, near…

…and far.

She explored the things she loved, like history (and dress up)….

More history (and more dress up!)

Cooking (and dress up)…

Storytelling ( and dress up)…

…and writing…

…and writing…

…and more writing.

If Bea is bright, it’s because she shines from within, with the spark of curiosity, a love of make-believe, and a passion for learning.

Oh, yeah, and for dress up!

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Travel Theme.

All words and images copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck