What I'm Taking Into November

A thing or two.

The maple with golden leaves.

First. A more accurate sense of how much coffee I actually drink in a day. My husband is a master of self-discipline. For health reasons, he has decided to just drink one cup of coffee in a day, and a supplement that coffee with actual glasses of water. It’s almost the apocalypse, y’all. I have never seen him voluntarily drink water although I have occasionally handed him a glass of water and stood over him while he got over his objections and drank it. 

Now, for whatever reason, things are different. He drinks one cup of coffee in the morning, and several glasses of water during the day. Which means I’m drinking the rest of the pot of coffee. Which means I’m also trying to limit my coffee drinking to at least the morning hours. Is it helping with my sleep? Sometimes.

Second. A renewed understanding of the magic of revising one’s own words. I’m working on a novel. Yes, that one, imperfect and beautiful. Yes, still. I’ve had feedback through the years from many people I respect and admire, whose work I also respect and admire. I think I’m on the last set of feedback of that substantive nature. 

And at last, I see how, through the years, I have been not just making my novel different—I’ve been making it better. The process has been circuitous, and I’ve learned a lot. 

I hope the path of revising my next novel is more straightforward. I was going to say that I hope it’s not as frustrating, but I now recognize that I have control over the frustration. As long as I am making it better, or at least trying to make it better, I can trust in the revision process, now that I’ve seen that process at work in fiction as well as nonfiction. And who knows, frustration might be an inevitable and welcome part of that process.

the ground near the maple's trunk,
 showing leaves both green and gold

Third. A renewed sense of gratitude. November brings with it my birthday, when it’s natural to look back over not only the past month but the past year. And it's been full of both tests and gifts. I’m grateful for vaccines and boosters. I’m grateful for men and women who repair things. I’m grateful to learn about where I live, both the house itself and its setting. 

I’m grateful for the kind of life where I can look for a fishing boat in the spring and in the autumn and feel it is a part of my world, as are the feeder visitors: Blue Jays and chickadees and squirrels, and the chipmunk that hoovers the deck of what they leave behind. I’m grateful for the ability to meet people online and to see people in person, carefully. 

I’m grateful for relationships that have lasted a long time, for relationships that roll with the punches, for relationships that burn steadily and with constancy, and for relationships that can mend when it’s important to do so.

big sky over Lake Superior, from the beach
at our little camp, showing the islands

Fourth. An act of hope: I voted yesterday. I’m grateful for the ability to vote—to attempt to choose people who represent the best of me and, I believe, the best of everyone else, and entrust them with the work of formalizing how we, as a community, treat each other. 

Sometimes voting serves only as a measure of how different I am. Sometimes no one I vote for wins. 

But there is victory in speaking up. Participating in efforts to make the world more just isn’t necessarily glamorous but it’s responsible, and that’s not a bad way to live.

Happy November, everyone. That’s my wish for you.