time to get back on the horse

Its been quite a few weeks since I’ve posted on my blog, or worked on my second manuscript. So much has happened that it feels more like a few years.

As I said farewell to 2013, and stepped eagerly into a bright new year, I thought I knew where I was going. And still do – sort of. Things have just got a bit off-track lately. To get back on track, first I need to get back on the horse.

December, and the year, ended on a high. I had just become a published author. I was galloping full steam into the future, relishing that wind in my hair. It took buckets of blood sweat and tears, and lots of patience, but still it was a dream come true. First came the e-book and then a few weeks later I got to hold a printed copy of my novel for the first time. Published just in time to let my hair down and enjoy the festive season; and take a well-earned summer break from writing and editing.

Then in the first week of 2014 came an unwanted black bird. As they often do, this one carried bad news, My youngest brother had passed away while travelling overseas. Before the shock had settled, I was packed and on a plane. I went with my parents to Cambodia, to support them during such a difficult time.

While overseas, I turned fifty. Like many people, I had been planning in my head the ‘perfect’ way to celebrate that milestone. There was no celebration. My birthday fell on a day that I would rather forget. It was a day of dealing with authorities, in a country that still bears the scars of the destruction that is war; where matters of life and death can be lost in translation.

When I returned home, people around me wanted to celebrate my birthday. I was even asked how my overseas holiday went, what sights I had seen. Or how many books I had sold so far. More lost in translation moments, even though a common language was evident. It was the fog that stopped me from communicating effectively. That type of fog that takes a while to shake. I soon realised that the only way out was to wait for the fog to shift of its own accord. And it did clear –  momentarily.

The thing about grief and loss is that it brings out the best in people. Sometimes it brings out the not-so-best in others. On one hand, I had three weeks of being closer to my parents then I can ever remember being. The circumstances were not at all ideal, but I know I’m lucky to have that time with them. Any time from here on is treasured. Then on the other end of the scale…..chaos.  Well, her name is not really chaos, but in the interest of not stirring the beast, I can think of no other label. So the aftermath of chaos brought with it a new type of fog to get through. There was not getting out of it, I had to not only face the loss of a brother but give up all hope of reconciliation with that tempest of chaos.

Of course, while all this was happening, I had stopped writing. I had stopped promoting my novel. I had even stopped interacting fully with others, both on-line and in life. Blame it on the fog. Partially. And a silly guilt-bubble that it wasn’t fair that I got to live my dream, when my brother didn’t. So I stopped writing – for just a while.

As March creeps ever closer, and summer-days are coming to an end, its time to farewell that black bird of sorrow and regrets. Although that doesn’t mean I have to say good-bye to my memories of my brother, those I get to keep. Just as the memories of my childhood, of adventure and laughter-shared with siblings, are mine to keep safe. I get to choose what stories I remember, and no one can take them away from me. After all, I am a keeper of story, and a spinner of yarns.

Which is why I have to fetch that horse from the bottom paddock, and get back in the saddle. I am a storyteller, a published writer. Its time I sat down at the keyboard and let some more stories out. There are so many waiting in queue; hardy seeds to nurture into beautiful books. I’ll take it slowly, one step at a time. Tonight its this blog-post. Tomorrow it will be something else, something simple, just to get back in the writing habit. Soon I’ll being going at full gallop again, eager to finish my next book.

I have no illusions, though. There will be other black birds, with more unwanted tidings. And there will be more fogs to find my way out of. Still, that horse will be waiting patiently for me, ready to ride with the wind through its mane; whenever I am ready.


8 thoughts on “time to get back on the horse

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss and your pain Karen. It’s good to see you surfacing from it now. Happy Birthday my friend – you deserve this milestone, even if you celebrate it later. I’ll be 50 this month too – we’re still spring-chickens. Hugs to you! xxxxx


  2. Hi Karen,
    So sorry about your brother. I lost an older one, too early, a few years back. I liked hearing about your getting closer to your parents during this stressful time. Something positive from the sorrow. I read a blog or two which you wrote when you were over there, sitting in a café by the water. But all did not seem well.

    You just had a big birthday – it’s such a fresh start. But then everyday is a new day, corny as that may sound. I find life is timeless while you’re living it. My age is well beyond yours but I always feel like a beginner, ha,ha.

    You may already know about this, but I want to suggest a book -WHEN YOU FEEL READY- called Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. It’s a stunning memoir of grief. As human beings, we share this element: losses of loved ones. I found her book had healing elements and ended up being a wonderful tribute to those she lost. I was also curious to see how she coped and when she didn’t. Permission to feel like hell. Recognition.

    But, like you, and the rest of us, time to get back on the horse, indeed, and make something of this life while we are privileged to have it.
    Sylvia V. @Jtosnest


  3. It’s good to have you back again, Karyn.
    You spoke about how the trip to Cambodia was a time in which you became closer to your parents. How amazing that in times of grief and chaos we can get closer to others. That there is something to be treasured out of that horrid time.


  4. Life will swing from one emotion to another for a while – then gradually even out. let it happen. Accept those feelings. Even embrace them. Share them, when you can, with those that can hear you. And, yes, get back on that horse. And let him dictate the pace for a bit. Hugs.


  5. So sorry to hear about your brother, Karen.

    But congrats on turning 50! Now you get to be eccentric, instead of just weird. (Or at least, that’s what I told everybody when I hit that milestone myself…)


    • Thanks, Lynne. Loss seems an unavoidable part of growing older, and it never gets easier.

      As far as turning the half-century mark: I’m still perfecting ‘weird’. Not planning on hitting full-blown eccentric until my seventies – still haven’t decided if it will be sans cats.
      Until then, I have some life left in me. In fact, I was weight-testing motorcycles the other day. Not quite ready for road-testing 🙂


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