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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

Author

ckisler

My Laundry Basket and My Brain Overflowth

From Prayer Warriors Thanks to Donna Sidle for Sharing

We just returned from a three day trip to Oklahoma. We experienced the

hospitality of friends–thanks again, Jeanne and Eddie. We celebrated our

granddaughter Gabby’s graduation from high school. We had a much

Needed visit with Terry’s brother and sister-in-law. And we made it back to

Kentucky ahead of the storms.

During that three days we stuffed our dirty clothes into plastic trash bag

Which I have now stuffed into our bathroom hamper–not a pretty sight, it

Kind of looks like it is oozing out over the sides. But, hey! I was one tired

Old hen by the time we got home.

During those three days, our mail stacked up, our routines changed, and our

hearts experienced a deepening of love with all its nuances. From the

celebration of accomplishment and young adults with all their

potential setting out in life to the recognition of how the experiences of life

shape the lives of us on the other side of the mountain of life, we stuffed it all

in.

Our life hamper overflows.

On top of that, we ate differently and we ate more, SO my body overflowth.

As I contemplated how best to reset my physical being, God gave me the

path and outcome for resetting my whole system.

This morning my devotional pointed me to Isaiah 58:6-11

The path:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The outcome:

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:8-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

And THEN on FACEBOOK my friend Donna shared the image you see with this

post. AMEN

And so these thoughts came:

When life gets out of control

When the hamper of life overflows

When the brain goes chaotic

When the body bulges

When the spirit sags

Get up, Get out, Go, Go, Go

Reach out to friends

But don’t stop there

Orderly life comes one clean sock at a time

Healthy eating requires more than dieting

Abundant life comes

from abundant giving and forgiving.

And

It’s the ones who won’t cross a puddle for you who need it most.

Not an easy path, but the right one.

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Mystery Dwells in Every Story

At least that is my experience.  E.L. Doctorow had it right.  The story being told often surprises the author.  You round a curve, headlights on, only to discover a divergent sequence of events unfolding.  I think for me it is God’s way of humbling me.  Oh, you thought, Max was headed to Knoxville.  Where did that log truck come from?  

Writing this I realize that if you’ve met one writer, you have met one writer.  Not all, maybe not any, experience writing a short story or novel, like I do.  Some authors exercise precise control over characters, plot, setting, the whole design set before putting the story into words.

I plan, but I glimpse only a twinkling light at the end of the tunnel.   I plan, but the story finds new characters who deserve attention, perhaps more attention than I care to give them.  I plan but the most joyful experience happens when the words, images, characters carry on as my fingers tap the keys.  With Braking Points daily I printed the new pages and read them to my husband.  Together, he and I, for he is a far better editor than I am, eliminated words, corrected grammar and awkward sentences.  He was and is my greatest encourager.  Watching him react to the plot kept me going for it said at least one person on earth liked the story.  A sprinkle of magic happened in those times. We both became involved with the characters, often discussing them as if they were real.  And therein lies the mystery and the magic of writing fiction.  Truth emerges, even in make believe.  The stories around us fuel the imagination and fire up the engines to create.  So that, what we write like what we read takes us places that are as real as the air we breathe.

Let me encourage you whatever your method of prep and writing to look for the stories, listen to the stories already blooming in your mind, and WRITE them down.  Go with God and discover the mystery that is writing.

 

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Where Stories Dwell

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First, Stories Dwell in the Lives of Others

Recently, with the published copy of Braking Points In my hands, I sat down and reread it.  That may seem odd to some, but it refreshed me and it reminded me of the  bits and pieces of others’ lives lived on those pages in the lives of Max and Lily, Amanda, Millie, Sophia.  Why?  Because in listening to the stories of friends and acquaintances over scores of years and sometimes even writing them down, I had a vast treasure trove that I barely tapped writing the novel.  I woke up this morning filled with gratitude for the experiences of others that tap into my imagination and fuel my expression of those in words.  I especially was thinking of my friend Judy, who has a gift for relating every day events in ways that never cease to make me laugh.  In my early morning meandering a story, she told me over lunch last week, brought a smile to my face, then a chuckle and then diabolical as I am I started to think how I could use it in my current novel.

Second, Stories Dwell in the World Around, in the News, in Books

Beyond the political news or maybe sometimes even in the midst of that, there are stories that beg to be told.  Writers tend to be observers.  Not all are introverts who watch, listen, read and turn it all over in their heads.  Some are extroverts who jump into every fray, expounding of every issue, gathering others around them, but it is in their approach to life that stories later to be transferred into words on a page or these days words on a screen are conceived.  There are folks who scour news stories, magazine articles, and travel guides finding kernels of ideas,  ‘what if’s’, that beg to be fleshed out and written.  For me, even a turn of phrase in something I hear or read will set my writer’s wheels turning.  I recently read the following quote in my morning quiet time from a devotion by Christine Caine:

“Our race would be easy if God kept us in the “strength zone” in our lives, but instead, he consistently pushes us into our “weakness zone,” because it is in our weakness that he is made strong” Christine Caine

What caught my attention was her use of the words, “weakness zone,” which started my thoughts rolling around in my head.  With that as a starting point I began to create a story, with setting and two characters to start, a mother and a daughter–always a complex situation.  Later that day, I read on Facebook about what a Rainbow Child was, the child born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or early demise of a sibling.  And I began the construct of a story I wanted to jump into and write.

Third, Stories Dwell in Who I am, in My Faith, My Worldview, My Backstory

I read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, and usually it doesn’t take me long to get a feel for the author’s worldview.  I learn a great deal that way, even from worldviews widely separate from mine.  I find at the core we are all more alike than different.  I find life stories similar to my own but told from a point 180 degrees out from my own.  I seek to understand others by reading a divergent crop of material.

However, when I write, I cannot adopt another worldview and have words, thoughts, conversations flow onto the page.  I do at times include characters with different worldviews.  My reading and conversations with friends, family, random folk do, I hope, allow me to portray other views truthfully and with empathy of our shared humanity.  Even then my faith in God and Jesus Christ guides me.  Above all else to love.  Want to know what books I discard quickly, books that bleed animosity and hatred onto the page, especially toward people groups.

Stories dwell everywhere.  Stories that long to be told.  In everyone there lies a true story of their life, and in everyone’s story there is also a novel to be written.  I may have started later than others but I long to tell the stories that will capture even a few readers’ hearts.  And I intend to read all the stories others write as well–at least as many as I can.

SMART MOUTHS SMART

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Gotta say, Folks, when you slap this verse out there like The Message interpretation does, it loses a bit of its poetic nuance. Unfortunately when I am examining my life I can kinda hide amongst the poetry.

“How well God must like you— you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭MSG‬‬

So here I am on this Saturday morning considering the day ahead. I suspect that I may mosey by Sin Saloon, have to turn around on Dead End Road, but may have some problems staying out of the company of mockers and shooting off my own Smart Mouth.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I seldom get into trouble keeping my mouth shut. Before a hundred ‘what if’ scenarios pop into your head where keeping quiet might cause disaster, I am referring to conversations–let’s say around a table, with friends. Or discussions in meetings or chats with neighbors about the neighborhood. My smart mouth, which I think of as witty, often come off as sarcastic. Go figure. Or my insight that I loudly proclaim sounds self righteous. Or my interruption to say what I have been harboring in my head shuts others out of the conversation. Or I share information that would best be unsaid.

OR I may spout off in anger crushing someone’s spirit, because of my own smart mouth.

In BRAKING POINTS Max has battled a quick temper since childhood, but his mother taught him a method for handling it. As he adjusts to having a surly teenager along for the ride, his resolve to be reasonable has its limits.
“He had won the battle, but decided it had been at a price. Winning wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Max had learned that many years before. He recited the Lord’s Prayer silently again before speaking. This time a gentler Max materialized.”

Consider the words and the time it takes to pray them–SO much better than counting to ten.

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Alaska photo credit Alex Sims

A Journey of 75,000 words begins with a Single Keystroke

imageSomeone asked me if I had a list of characters, backstories, outlines before I began writing BRAKING POINTS.  I did not.  What I had were two elderly characters based in part on my father and mother-in-law, a trunk full of true episodes involving road trips, some mine, some others, including more than one from my in-laws, Maurice and Dorothy.

One story told over and over again happened in the early stages of Dorothy’s Alzheimers.  They were traveling from Oklahoma to Florida where they had a park home in New Port Richey.  Dorothy had curled up in the back seat, which she often did, and fallen asleep.  Maurice stopped for gas in Mississippi, filled the tank, and had gone inside to pay, when Dorothy woke up.  She proceeded into the station to use the facilities.  Somehow he failed to see her.  So climbing back in the car, he glanced in the backseat,  saw her blanket and assumed she was still curled up asleep.  In his defense, Dorothy was a slightly built 4’10” woman who slept all scrunched up.  Off he went.

A hundred miles down the road–how far he actually got is debatable since stories like this one lend themselves to hyperbole–when he stopped so they could eat, he discovered she was missing.  Since this was before cell phones, he laid the pedal to the metal, and headed back to the place he last glimpsed her for sure–asleep in the backseat.  No telling what had gone on back at the station, those details are sketchy, but he found her sitting on a bench out front.

“Dorothy, why did you get out of the car without telling me.”

“I had to pee.”

He apologized to the station attendant who had been keeping an eye on her–they were ready to call the local authorities if he did not return soon.  Thankfully, she was fine.  She looked at the attendant and said, “see I told you, he’d be back.”

Maurice escorted her to the passenger side of the car, got her settled and kept one eye on her the remainder of the drive.

My mother-in-law drifted away from us over the next several years, but Maurice stayed the course.  So when I started Braking Points I found myself on an incredible journey with Max and Lily.  While on that excursion I wrote around 1500 words a day but they were basically unplanned.  In my imagination, I was following along observing and recording it.  Amanda popped up at one of the early stops and later Sophia joined the trip.  Every day I came to the computer excited to find out what happened next? where are we going? who are we going to meet?

A friend and fellow author read the book in its raw form and said ‘you need to follow this one and find Olivia.’

If you want to know who Olivia is, you gotta read BRAKING POINTS.  Just Saying….

 

More from the Free-Range Mimi Chicken: the changes in puberty are a piece of cake compared to the golden-changes


When I was nearing puberty, my mother gave me the “talk”–a fairly disgusting scenario, if I remember it and I DO!  She also gave me a book, ‘So You Are a Young Lady Now’, even though, based on the aforementioned “TALK”, I had decided being a young lady might be the last thing I wanted to be.  Trust me on this, I decided then and there that Peter Pan had the right idea…never grow up.  But as the hormones kicked in, I slowly fell in line with the ‘growing up’ agenda.  

Mid 1950’s

I furthered my education in the classic manner of the time,  discussing IT with my girlfriends.  From the bounty of thirteen/fourteen year old wisdom,  I learned a lot more than that book or my mother told me….although time, life, and experience have proved some of that information to be erroneous if not erogenous.  I figured I had better get in step whether the idea appealled to me or not.
So I checked my chest daily for any evidence of the promised budding bosom.  

At the first sign of any advancement in that area, I coercered my mother into buying my first bras, which I stuffed with bathroom tissue, giving me a rather lumpy set of boobs…and I wager to say NOW, that I was not the only one doing this.  However, in algebra class I sat across the aisle from the female in our 7th grade class who had blossomed early and beautifully.  I matured slower than some…ok, MOST other girls in my class, both physically and socially, shedding bathroom tissue falsies in my wake.


Back then, thirty seemed to be the edge of OLD AGE, while ninety seems more like it now. Even saying that, I realize that I have a friend whose mother is 100, active mentally and physically, still riding her exercise bike 30 minutes a day.  Our exercise class Forever Fit at Fitness Formula boasts a regular participant who is 96 and makes some of us 70 year olds look old.  My husband’s Dad and both his grandmothers lived well into their 90’s and my Mom was 89 when she died. And good grief! Some woman in Germany just gave birth to quadruplets at age 65.


Still at 70, I think a new book should be written…so you writer folks out there get busy…’So Now You Are An Old Lady’,  a book full of fun facts about bones, joints, sagging boobs, no underarm hair (that is a relief), turkey necks. other body changes.  A book that talks about how to deal with embarrassing issues like old age multitasking, laughing, sneezing, farting and peeing all at the same time.  Few sane women past 55 would even consider going ‘commando’, trust me on this. I cannot speak for the gents with regard to going ‘commando’, in fact, I would be interested in hearing how some of them would define the concept.


WHERE is the book that talks about issues like ‘hot flashes’ with remedies short of ripping off every shred of clothing no matter where you are when the heat rises.  A book that acknowledges that OLD People still have a sex life, but doesn’t pretend it can be just like it was when you were kids. . .in all honesty, it can be so much better. I can think of two reasons why from my own experience more romance (him) and fewer hysteromics (me). A book that encourages activities that keep you moving, thinking, praying, laughing and loving.  A book that starts something like, ‘Your body is changing and you are entering the Twilight Zone Golden Years of Life.  Just like in puberty there will be new surprises everyday.  This book’s design focuses on what those changes might be and how to handle them.  Over the years, hopefully, you have been acquiring tools that will assist you in navigating the perils of aging.’


Just like I could not stop the onset of puberty, I cannot stop the aging process.  There is no beauty regime on the planet that will reverse the thinning skin, wrinkles, the effects of gravity on every body part or the atrophy of the brain. . .although I still try.  My life like everyones has been full of ups, downs, joys, sorrows, but thank God for the experiences I have had and the ones I still have before me.



Announcing the Birth of Braking Points, the Novel

Weighing in at 320 pages
http://thebp.site/183882

Several years ago a novel wrote me. It took me on a journey that began with a contest for a first chapters of unpublished authors–no, I did not win. Still like conception, cells divided, a heart beat was detected, life exploded within me.

There were no charts, no outlines, no forethought of characters or backstories. Only a vague idea of an elderly couple setting out on a road trip. So I accompanied them, my feisty 87 year old protagonist and his wife with dementia. So for the next 9 months, yelp! just like a pregnancy, I put at least 1500 words on the page almost daily. Turns of event, characters emerging, surprised me at times. I read it to Terry every night. His advice helped shape the book. It is dedicated to him.

I based the characters Max and Lily in part on my husband’s parents. Terry’s Dad, Maurice was firm in his commitment to care for his Mom, Dorothy as Alzheimer’s robbed her of memory and personality. I completed this book before my father’s-in-law death in 2011, so he started reading it only to come to me with tears in his eyes. “It’s too soon after [Dorothy died in 2004], maybe I can read it later.” He never did. He was 93 when he died.

I think his emotional response led me to shelf the book for several years. However, time passes. I am getting old myself–right?! I AM Old. There is a verse in the Book of Esther that paraphrased says, “Perhaps, you were born for such a time as this.” Perhaps BRAKING POINTS was born for this time. So with an acknowledgement that all mistakes are mine, Here is my Book Baby #1.

I hope some of you will check it out, maybe even read it AND if you do please rate it and write a review.

Good Friday 2019

Spring in a Vase, Colored pencils, Mimi

Barefoot Book Club–Read, Reflect, Review–Come Join Me!

Since writing this I have been in a book club and loved it, but still want to reach out to other readers and writers to expand the circle.

My Seventh Decade...The Years Beyond

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Back in 1964 in an English Lit class at Oklahoma State University, I discovered that I was not alone…literature, good literature like life possessed depth and complexity, that authentic literary fiction not only contained truth, but explored it from at least two angles, the author and the reader. I discovered that the author’s intention of plot, sub-plots, characters, the message or moral of the story, might not be what the reader found at all.

When first assigned scholarly commentaries, critiques and essays about literary works, I assumed I would find agreement among the experts, insights into plot and nuances that frankly enhanced my understanding of the work. Boy, was the naive college sophomore I was back then surprised. Instead of finding agreement leading to deeper understanding, I found dissension, arguments, quarreling, bickering all using $100 dollar words that still sounded a lot like profanity. Additionally, I found novice that I…

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