Fountain of Youth

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the roses are blooming and the birds are chirping!

I think that everyone has at least one belief that helps guide their actions, like that cleanliness is next to godliness, or that one good turn deserves another. I am always curious about those types of operating systems others are employing as well as the ones running my own life. One of the best ways I have found to ferret out my own is to observe what I write about in my novels, which is how I discovered something I believe that delights me.

For the past several years I have written the Beryl and Edwina mysteries which feature two dear friends who move through the world in very different ways. Beryl”s adventurous nature sits in opposition to Edwina’s cautious approach to life. It would have to be said that in general my life far more resembles Edwina’s than it does Beryl’s. I live in a small village, I love to knit, to garden and to read. I am a decent cook. I tend to think things through and am not in any way addicted to speed in motorized vehicles.

That said, I think I share something with Beryl that is philosophical. Like her, I am comfortable with trying new things and being a beginner. I love to learn new information, to try my hand at unfamiliar skills and to admit that I am not accomplished yet at a pastime that interests me. For instance, in the last three or four years I have taken up painting and running. I am not particularly good at either one.

I set up an easel and an art cart filled with supplies in a corner of my kitchen that is in view of my cooking cockpit. From my stove or my sink I can look at whatever I have daubed onto a canvas and evaluate it. I am never satisfied with the results, but I am intrigued to see what I have done and how it could creep closer to my imaginings of what it might become. I pat myself mentally on the back for giving it a go.

As to the running, I am still a rank beginner. Despite having worn out a few pairs of shoes, I continue to be very slow. My milage is unimpressive and I am near the back of the pack whenever I participate in a race. I’m the sort of runner who people cheer loudly for because they can see I could use the encouragement.

While my results in these areas has not been earth-shattering, I truly believe that being willing to be a beginner is the real fountain of youth. Each new book that I write provides a me the opportunity to feel like a beginner too. Creating new characters, trying out different time periods and developing fresh plots gives me the chance to learn, to risk, and to reach and for that, I am truly grateful.

Readers, what is a philosophy you hold dear? In which ways would you consider yourself a beginner?

26 Thoughts

  1. Go for it, Jessie! I was a runner for many years – also not particularly fast – but I loved running the back roads of my town and occasionally feeling like I could run for much longer.

    1. I’m a believer in “One day at a time.” Life has taught me that sometimes focusing on the next minute, next hour, next day is what you need to get through the tough times. And then making it to that next day is a true accomplishment.
      I gave up running decades ago, but my wife and I like to walk in 5 K events. Our goal-don’t finish last!

  2. With all the crumbling roadways here as well as flooding stay safe while you are out and about in those gorgeous running shoes.

  3. For me, my philosophy basically is that the only failure is when you give up. If I don’t do something right, I’ll start over with a new outlook and keep trying. The more I stumble the more determined I am to keep going. I’m one to refuse defeat. Sometimes I seem to take a beating before I realize that to succeed is to do so by just taking another path. I don’t consider that defeat, but rather being smart enough to know there are more than one way to get something done whether it’s an easier way, one that takes longer or one with many struggles along the way.

    Another thing I listen to my inner voice on is a saying I’ve heard all my life. “You can catch a thief, but you have to live with a liar.” Meaning that a thief is usually caught for their misdeeds and punished for it, while a liar can often disguise themselves as something else and live among us. It means to me that a liar is the worse of the two and to be leery of those we do catch in a lie because if they tell one, there are usually 100 more they didn’t get caught in. Once caught in a lie, that person is jaded to me in their character.

    Even as much as I love photography and keep trying to improve my hobby, I still consider myself a beginner. That’s because there is always something else to learn – some new technique, new equipment, trying to capture nature’s lighting, or new scene or critter to try to capture. Think that’s when folks get bored with one job or hobby – when they stop looking for new ways or things in it to aim for.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. I love all of this, Kay! My youngest son is an avid photographer and he is constantly discovering new techniques and technologies! It is an ever expanding hobby!

  4. How wonderful to learn some more fun facts about you, Jessie! One of my many philosophies gathered along the way is to learn at least one new thing every day…it could be a fact, it could be a new word, a new activity or it could be a new way to make the world a better place. On top of this, I must find long spaces of time to read…Some of my learning comes from reading…I only read cozy mysteries, but there are some authors like you, Wickeds, who infuse a learning element in your books, fulfilling my desire to be entertained, but also to learn something new by reading your cozies! Thank you for entertaining me and for teaching me, dear friends 🙂 Luis at ole dot travel

    1. Aww, I am so pleased to hear that we add to your life in this way, Luis! I love learning new things too, especially through pleasure reading!

  5. Jessie, this is wonderful. Trying something new and being willing to be terrible at it is such a gift for this perfectionist. Unlike writing, which I get better and better at, running, painting and crocheting allude me. Yet I try, though these days it’s more walking than running.

    PS, love the shoes.

  6. I’ve been running since Jim Fixx days – read his book and started – never fast, in fact never finished in anything but the last third of the pack. It was the joy of the cadence of my feet that kept me going – it’s also a great way to solve plot problems! I miss it. Can’t find trail shoes that fit and regular runners don’t offer the proper support for uneven terrain.

    I love learning new things and once I get the basics, I love to stretch myself. I taught myself to crochet a few years ago. Made some lovely throws. Now I’m learning how to make sweaters. Made one simple one so of course, I’m tackling an Aran! Bring it on – it’s only yarn!

    1. I love this, Kati! I tackled an Arab sweater several years ago and took that same tack. It is only yarn! If you have to rip it back it can still be knit into something wonderful!

  7. As one slow runner (who has to take walk breaks these days) to another, keep at it. Even at your slowest, you are lapping everyone who stayed on the couch. That’s my philosophy when it comes to running.

  8. Tho’ I’m accomplished at many things, I’m not a professional at any of them, so I guess I’m always a beginner. And that’s OK. I love to continue learning either more about something or something completely new.

    I learned that I can always do just a little bit more than I think I can. I get a lot of stuff done this way.

  9. I hold on to Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways subit to him and he will make your paths straight.” I am beginning to learn to truely stand on my own two feet. My Mom was my touchstone. I could always bounce ideas off of her or go to her for advice. I am not having to make decisions without a sounding board. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

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