Dreams of the Crazy Cat Lady

12:13 PM Elizabeth Seckman 46 Comments

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Since my mom died, I've been unmotivated and disconnected from the business end of writing.

Instead, I've become a bit more nostalgic, combing through dusty old papers and pictures, I suppose looking back to look forward. A remembering-my-roots sort of search for insight.

But no matter how much I tell myself to get busy, I'm still not motivated to be "out there".
I was even going to skip the IWSG today...send Alex an email mea culpa and a promise to get my act together by next month.

Then I found this letter in my grandma's papers and it reminded me...you can't check out just because life gets hard.

You see, my grandma was an artistic type. Her creative drug of choice was song lyrics. She sold a few love songs and a few jingles, but she never reached the level of success that made her feel like she was making any sort of mark.

Then real life brought tragedy-- two of her boys died, probably of the mumps. She stopped writing...stopped dreaming.

Instead, she got cats. Lots and lots of cats. She lived on a farm and people ditched their feline problems in her driveway and she devoted her life to taking care of their strays.

It wasn't until I was a young teen and started my first works of genius-- such masterpieces as "How to Annoy the Teacher" written on school paper and bound with yarn-- that my grandma told me she was once a writer. She showed me sheet music and 45s (the small records) she'd either written or collaborated on.

I was impressed. Her? Not so much. I asked her why she didn't stick with it, she was making headway. I don't recall her having an answer, but the longer I live "the dream", the better I understand.

We forget to channel our negatives into positives and use that energy to propel the dream.

Or we just stop dreaming all together.

And we fail to give ourselves credit for what we have accomplished.

It was one of my grandma's songs that was sung at my wedding. She might not have thought it was a big deal, but as far as I am concerned, that's pretty a damned good legacy. And the folder stuffed with her poetry? Priceless.

In honor of my grandma, Mary Hartman,  let's let music be the inspiration today.




Insecure Writer's Support Group

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46 comments:

  1. You just got your answer then. I think writing a song that gets recorded is a very big deal.
    And I think you know my answer to any such email...

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    1. It is good to know that support is always an email away! Thanks for always being the best of leaders and friends a writer can have.

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  2. Such a good post, Elizabeth. Especially this part - "We forget to channel our negatives into positives and use that energy to propel the dream. Or we just stop dreaming all together. And we fail to give ourselves credit for what we have accomplished."

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    1. Thanks Madeline. I do think that is one of our biggest flaws as writers, and it takes other writers to shove beached bodies back into the water.

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  3. Loss is devastating. I hope you cling to your dreams, and the passion returns. Not that there's anything wrong with cats. Cats are cool. But still, writing is where the heart is at.

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    1. I've got one cat. And three dogs. That's plenty for one household. I'll put the creative thinking cap on before I do something insane like buying a hamster. :)

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  4. She definitely achieved a lot, even if she might not have realised it. You're right - when tragedy strikes, we can either fold or keep going defiantly. I've been there, and I'm not sure I'd have kept going after losing Andrew without the encouragement and support of my writer friends.

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    1. If only she had had an internet back in the 40s, things could have been different. I remember Andrew. You managed to take his memory and not only do wonderful things with your writing, but you paid tribute to Andrew in such a way, I know I will never forget him. Every time I see a red balloon, I am reminded.

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    1. Thanks Mac. Time to get back to daydreaming, right?

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  6. Getting even one song out there is a big deal indeed. We can't give up, even when the manure pile grows bigger around us.

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  7. Good Post, Elizabeth. It's those priceless things that really matter.... Never quit daydreaming!!

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  8. Yes, too often we give up when we've experienced loss.
    Glad your grandmother left a legacy of which you can be proud.

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    1. Giving up is one of the easiest things to do. And easy is hardly ever good for you.

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  9. This really hit home for me. I hadn't written for nine months, and after a good burst of writing recently, life has me feeling beaten up. Thank you for telling us about your grandmother! This is a priceless lesson.

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    1. I think getting beaten up by life is part of the writer journey-- at least we all seem to have that in common. :)

      I hope life is treating you better, Chrys.

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  10. Powerful post. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. I can relate to the struggle after losing a loved one. I've been struggling too since my husband died. I picked up my writing again last month after 4 years of not writing. It's fun but I still haven't found the same passion that I once had.

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    1. Hugs, Natalie. I can't imagine how hard that is. Keep writing though. I think it's a good salve for the soul.

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  12. Wonderfully inspiring post. It's so hard not to lose yourself in difficult times like that. Some days all you can do is put one foot in front of the other; how can there be room for dreams? I felt that way when my daughter was suffering from a life threatening illness, but as you say, it's much better to channel all that grief and loss into your dreams. Thanks so much for this post! Your grandma left you a wonderful gift.

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    1. I do not ever want to have to walk in your shoes! That is definitely a one foot in front of the other situation. Hopefully things are all better now.

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  13. Thank you sharing this story with us. Life can be hard but I do think it important to nurture our passions. I think it incredibly special you had one of your grandma's songs at your wedding too.

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    1. Perfect word- nurture. And when writing or creating is what brings us joy, it really is the best place to turn, but if we don't care for that spark, it's easy to let it die out.

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  14. Your grandmother was quite the person. And how wonderful that one of her songs was used during your wedding - that is so special! Sometimes, we just need time to adjust to the new flow of things and remember that change can be super positive if we make it that way. (I've been throwing these sort of happy inspirations at my son all week ;) )

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    1. Life has a tendency to make major shifts and we have no other option but to go with the flow and look for the best. I tell my kids that sort of thing too!

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  15. I love the fact her song was played at your wedding. Things like that make me very sentimental. I had a couple of years of not writing, way back, and I'm so grateful I found my way back.

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  16. You made my eyes tear up today, Elizabeth, but in a good way. It's so important to hold onto our dreams and I think I really needed to hear this today. Thank you! Let's hold on together!

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    1. It's a deal, Tyrean!! I'll stick with it if you do!

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  17. My grandmother is gone too, Elizabeth, and I miss her. She wrote little anecdotes about her cat and her kids. My Mom was diagnosed with bladder cancer this year. She survived the treatment, thank you God.

    It's nice to have her song to remember her by. You all are in my prayers.

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    1. Prayers for continued health for your mom. How lucky you are to have your grandmother's anecdotes. I have one surviving diary of my mother's. I know she kept more, but I don't think she kept them.

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  18. That was an awesome letter to keep your dreams alive. Too bad she let life get in the way. Although I'm sure she loved all her family (and cats) equally as much as she loved her writing. Perhaps she just traded one dream for another.

    The older I get, the more I understand how easy it is to prioratize everything but the creative dreams.

    I hope you take counsel from this encouraging letter your grandmother received and hold onto your writing dreams. You never know what kind of awesome can happen; like inspiring your own future grandchildren. Life is a circle, after all.

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    1. You know, in my child eyes, my grandmother was one of the happy people. When my brothers and sisters and I would visit, it was like we were royalty and the red carpet was rolled out. She was never a rich woman, but in some ways, I think she understood the value of things better than anyone I ever knew.

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  19. Hugs Elizabeth.

    Loss in any was is devastating and you have to take time to grieve it in your way. All the best!

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    1. You're right, Nas. If only to take time to bundle up some energy!

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  20. I am sorry you are finding things difficult after the loss of your mom. Your grandma's an inspiration.

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    1. Hugs, Jo. And thanks for the email. You truly are the best.

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  21. Wow, what a great story. It's hard to measure our success sometimes, especially if we keep comparing ourselves against the pinnacle. Sometimes you have to consider the dregs below you as well. Then again, taking care of cats is a lovely and noble thing to do. I feed all strays that come my way if possible.

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    1. I always tell people to never compare themselves to others-- then I turn around and do it. It's the worst. And I agree-- saving cats is a worthwhile venture. Had she been running an organized shelter, she'd have been given an award.

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  22. It's darned near impossible to tap the optimistic HEA writer inside of you when you're still grieving, but in time, she'll rise to the top again. Maybe you could write something about your mother... just for yourself. It'd give you an outlet for some of what you're feeling and might speed up the healing process.

    It's such a blessing that one of the songs your grandmother wrote was played at your wedding. That's such a beautiful sentimental thing, I fully expect to see something along those lines in one of your next books.

    This was a super post. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I said at her funeral that it would take a book or more to describe my mother. She was as unique a character as the world provided.

      And you're right, it's hard to do HEA pr even be a positive, uplifting blogger when you're feeling sad. But then, after a bit, you're reminded that the ones you lose never really leave you-- there right there in the memories and the quirks you've picked up over the years.

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  23. I found out after my paternal grandfather died that he had trained to be a writer. I was given his training text books and it helped me better self teach myself to write. I was a teen at the time and was really touched to learn I wasn't the only one aspiring to write in my family. Sorry about your mother and grandma sounded like quite a gal. Never give up on dreaming Liz. That song was lovely and made me bop.

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    1. It goes to how that it's in our genes, right Sheena-kay?

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