~ By Jude Bown
2013 was quite a year. The New Year’s Eve confetti was still a memory when it all began. Winter had dropped so much snow on the mountain, most of our gutters were torn from their solid hold. We were just about to hire a company that specializes in gutter cleaning too as they were so dirty! Too late now, time to clean them and more than likely install these Gutter Guards Atlanta so we no longer have to worry about our gutters becoming clogged! In the process of assessing that damage, we noticed the hairline cracks in the brickwork above our garage were significantly wider and more worrisome. The fireplace had some suspicious cracks, as did the foundation. Thus began a quest to keep our home from tumbling down the granite mountain upon which it stands.
The gutter damage was an easy fix. Hire a crew to work their magic then open a wallet.
The foundation damage was not as easy. Hire a foundation specialist then open a vein.
We revere our castle in the sky and have lovingly coddled and maintained every square inch of its massive girth. We love and dream and experience life within its walls. Our home is our peaceful sanctuary.
That which brings us the greatest joy can also be the greatest test of our spirit.
Well, I’ll be…
For a moment, I forgot what I was talking about. Home owning. Or writing.
Snow storms that can demolish gutters in a single season. Critiques, contest comments or reviews that can destroy confidence with a single key stroke.
A home foundation that can shift with time or natural causes. A support system that can shift with whim or circumstances.
At first glance, a home is sound. At second glance, there are fissures in the foundation that compromise the structure.
At first glance, a story is solid. At second glance—particularly if a talented critique partner is that second glance—there are fractures in the foundation that compromise the structure.
How do we survive these monumental shifts in our home, our work and our life?
In order to stabilize our home last year, five large blocks of cement were cut and removed from the floor of our garage. Then crew members hand-dug the holes, 8-12 feet deep, to reach the earth-line below the foundation.
Where’s nearly six-foot-tall Waldo? Under that blue baseball cap in the photo.
A hydraulic system was used in each of the five holes to sink piers to the center of the earth. The depth of the five piers varied from 52-67 feet below the foundation to create a solid support system.
Think about it. The process of creating stories that resonate from our deepest experiences, emotions and observations of life is quite similar to sinking piers.
We choose the perfect spot to cut away the cement blocks then dig down deep. Deeper. And deeper still. Searching. Reaching. Sweating. Fretting. Toiling. Drawing upon pure tenacity and grit to break through rock and rubble, tears and fears to create a story built upon a solid foundation.
We trust in the support of our crew members to accomplish a harrowing and seemingly impossible task. We place our faith in our writing support systems to guide us in the right direction when we can’t see beyond the thick walls encircling us. We rely on family and friends to keep us safe, centered and sane. We believe in the characters who have entrusted us with their stories to guide and ground us.
Our lives are constantly off kilter. Uncharted territory.
We’re steeped in adversity. Yet we hope.
We battle odds every step of the journey. Fearing and facing the unknown. Yet we put one foot in front of the other and carry on with courage, optimism and faith.
Our dreams are rooted in a shifting universe. Yet we believe.
Our world crumbles without a secure foundation. We rely on stability.
How solid is your support system?
As with the piers that were sunk below the foundation of our home, our personal support systems are most often invisible. Yet they unceasingly support and stabilize.
We all search for solid footing in a shifting world.
Where do you find your stabilization? What resources do you drawn from? How do you keep digging to the center of the earth when all is dark—and closing in—around you?
Your comments may stabilize the shaky foundation of another and shine a bright ray of hope on their dreams.
Jude Bown is an award-winning contemporary romance writer currently working on a series that takes place in a small, quirky town like the one she grew up in. She presents craft workshops and writes a YOUR BEST SELF column for several RWA chapter newsletters.
As a former International Speaker, Jude has presented over 1,200 seminars in America, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Ireland. She loves baseball, music, Mexican food and toenail polish.