I'm back.

Back from my blogging break. And I needed one, as my last post indicated. Thank you all for your lovely, supportive comments and offers of help and even for sending flowers. The day I outlined in the post wasn’t even unusual – there were several like it and many that weren’t quite that busy, but pretty close.

I ended up a very tired kitten.

I should probably knock on wood, but I daresay that things have calmed down in the busy-ness realm and also in the way I’m approaching the busy-ness. That’s all we really can do, isn’t it? Change our approach and our perception?

So I’ve decided to take a sabbatical. A sabbatical from constant worry. A sabbatical from feeling like I have to constantly produce new writing, new music, new ideas, new art to be worthy. A sabbatical from always-full to-do lists. I’ve decided to really prioritize what NEEDS-needs to be done right now vs. everything that just needs to be done. There’s a big difference, I realized. Try it sometime and see what happens in the space of a day.

It’s working already. Now, when Ethel’s microwave goes on the fritz and she’s very upset and worried, going out to get her a new one at 9:00 p.m. doesn’t put me over the edge because I haven’t filled up my day with a thousand things not on the priority list.

Now, when I feel all guilty for not posting to my blog, I know that I'm not abandoning all you wonderful ones in my social network because I'm still reading your posts and putting in my comments and encouragement. But producing a post three times a week is not on the priority list.

Now, when I look out my kitchen window and see the dried up, overgrown garden, I don’t desperately try to find two days to get it cleaned off before winter because it’s not going anywhere and it can wait until spring and it’s just not on the priority list.

And now, when I’m deep in the dreaming and rehearsing and promoting for my 10th Annual Holiday Concert (November 24…stay tuned for details), I’m not worrying about not writing and constantly producing in that area of my life for a while because it’s not on the priority list.

On the priority list:
...Ethel (who’s like family, really)
...good friends

...and preparing in all ways for my 10th Annual Holiday Concert. 
I really hope you’ll mark your calendars and join me!

And should another day come like the one in the previous post (as it very well could because this is life, after all), I’m planning to be better able to breeze through, protecting my neighborhood and helping my friends without ending up an exhausted, crying, beer-drinking girl on the couch covered in cats. ’Cuz that’s a sight neither you nor I really ever want to see again, I’m sure.

Thanks for sticking with me. And please let me know what’s on your priority list these days. Let’s support each other!



My official job: cat warmer.
Their official job: Amy calmer.

I know it's been more than a week since I said I would update my blog. But do you ever get so overwhelmed by the beauty, pain and wonder of life that you just can't possibly distill it all into a couple of blog posts? Even if you have an English degree with a concentration in writing and have been a professional writer for 20 years? And even if you haven't?

Like - how do you do this, for example, then distill it, take photos of it, and then blog about it…

One night last week, all I wanted to do was take a long walk, take a long bath and then relax afterward with my blog. I'd written copy at work for 7 and a half hours straight. I felt cross-eyed and drained.

BUT - when I got home I noticed that Ethel's back patio was covered in leaves and she hates it when it's covered in leaves and she thinks she should rake it herself (you're 93 and use a walker - yeah, Ethel, why don't you just go out and rake…). So I raked.

THEN I talked Ethel into letting me take her garbage and recycling to the curb.

THEN Ethel told me to fill her birdbath. And take down the tomato cage. And water the hydrangea. And get rid of her scruffy geranium plant. So I did. (I love Ethel.)

THEN I started on my walk. A block and a half down, I saw my friend come tearing out of her house yelling for her 2-year-old son. She looked panicked. I ran over and helped her look for him. We found him right away. He was hiding behind the neighbor's garage, playing. Whew.

THEN a few blocks later a nice little cat ran toward me and wanted to be petted. So I did. THEN it started to follow me home. I talked with a variety of neighbors about who it belonged to. Finally found its owner. It's well taken care of, just likes to roam and is very friendly. And sooo cute…(I will not take another cat home. I will not take another cat home. I will not…)

THEN on my way home from the walk, another neighbor called and sounded frantic and asked me to help get her two kittens out of the basement ceiling - they got up there but couldn't get down. So I did.

The night was so apparently not about me and my walk and my bath. That's ok. Amy Kortuem, Neighborhood Caretaker to the rescue. It's a good job to have.

THEN I finally got home. I was running the bath water when I remembered a friend's book release party that night. I had only 30 minutes to get there, so I raced through my bath and went to the book party. My friend was was out of books by theme I got there, that's how well it went. I'm so happy for him.

THEN my good friend from high school texted me that she was stopping chemo and getting ready to move to hospice. Would I play "How Great Thou Art" at her funeral? Of course I will. (Oh, my heart.) And would I meet her next week at the local bar to talk about funeral music? Of course I will. (If you knew my friend, you'd know how perfectly "her" this is.)

THEN I came home and sat on my front step and stared out into the night. A friend came over while I was sitting there staring. I told her about everything, this whole list, as I stared.

"Wow, what a weekend," she said.
"No, it all happened tonight, since 5:00 p.m.," I said.
She didn't say anything more. Only looked at me. Then she offered me a beer she had in her purse. Seriously, if you have a day like that, you need people to offer you beer from their purses.

So my friends, I haven't been blogging. Because I've had many days like this in the past couple of weeks. And in between I've played for weddings and 25th anniversary events and arts magazine launches and met with my friend about her funeral music and…I'll tell you all about them. Sometime. Soon. I promise.

But right now, it seems that it's more important to take care of my neighborhood, my family, my Ethel, myself. I need a little couch time with cats when I take off my Amy Kortuem Neighborhood Caretaker cape. I just might need another week. Or so. Please don't give up on me! Promise?