Irene North


2022: the first 50 days

Today is the 50th day of the year and I thought I would take some time to reflect on how the year is going, especially since 2020 and 2021, were more bad than good.

Banned books are the best books

A selection of books Paul and I own.

My grandmother taught me many lessons. The one I have never forgotten and took notice of was the day she pointed to her head and said, “Whatever you put up here, no one can ever take away from you.”

I’m not sure if it was an innate desire to learn, my grandmother’s guidance, or a little of both, but I have always loved to read and to learn. The majority of books I own and have read in life are nonfiction. The fiction I read has to have meaning and it has to teach me something.

Monkeying around at Cedar Canyon

The Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Area (WMA) provides a great opportunity to see animals, big and small, during any of the hikes you can take in the area. You can choose from hikes along a clearly marked trail, hikes along two tracks and hikes to the top of the butte for spectacular views of the valley.

Since I am only a small monkey, I go wherever my adventurous humans go. They seem to always choose the game trail, which humans also use to the top. It’s a 45-minute trek straight up where you can see some pretty views. We usually walk at least halfway across the top, where you can see even more.

When you lose your voice, find another way to speak

I have never had writer’s block. I have had plenty of instances of “this is stupid and why are you making me write this garbage,” but I’ve always been able to write. On Thursday, December, 2, 2021, that all changed.

What I will be reading in 2022

Each January, I gather together suggestions for books and make a list of the things I want to read. I typically read 18-24 books a year, plus scientific studies and podcasts as they come along, but the past two years have been a bit difficult for me and my focus was not quite there. This year, I’ve gathered 10 books. If I can get back on track, I’ll be finished with them halfway through 2022, but I want to be realistic in my goals, so this list is a good way to achieve it.

I’m kind of angry right now

December was an unexpectedly terrible month, beginning with my brother-in-law, David, informing Paul about their dad’s fall.

Caught between two worlds

Londo patiently waits for kitty treats.

Sometimes, I wonder if what I write here is worthwhile and if anyone cares. Other times, I think, “this is my blog. I’ll write whatever I want,” but there is always a nagging thought at the back of my head wondering if what I do matters.

On a recent day out exploring northwest Nebraska, my friend and I were chatting and he told me he was thankful for the writing I do here. He does not have PTSD or experience depression. He said he was once the type of person who would wonder why people who are depressed don’t just snap out of it and get on with things, but through my writings, he has come to learn it isn’t so easy.

On September 28, 2021, I had a flashback. I wrote about it the next morning, but didn’t really know what to do with it until last night.

A Christmas of confusing and conflicting emotions

I don’t celebrate Christmas. The holiday isn’t full of happy memories for me and, so, my husband and I do other things. This year, I’ll be at work Christmas Eve and Christmas and Paul will likely be finishing The Last of Us Part II and starting Far Cry 6.

I’m still struggling to stay focused. I’ve got an overdue writing assignment I need to write. Well, I wrote it, didn’t like it, and deleted it. Now I have to start over. I am also helping raise another project from its semi-dead state. It’s a great idea and one I support, but when the rug is pulled out from under you, it takes a while to see things clearly again. I had a good doctor’s appointment earlier this week, with everything going mostly as planned. I’ve lost 40 pounds this year and I bought some new pants yesterday. I’ve been going to work the past two months with pants two sizes too big for me, so it will be nice having clothes that fit.

Remembering the beauty of those who helped you

Ten years ago, two influential people in my life passed away. My grandmother, Lorraine, died on June 11, 2011. I continue to write stories about her and the impact she had on my life. I don’t often speak about prominent atheists and how they have also helped to shape my character, but Christopher Hitchens was one of them. He passed away on December 15, 2011 after a battle with esophageal cancer. Both had a lasting impact on my life, including teaching me to always seek knowledge, to always question everything and to always try to be a better person than you are today.

Trying to be yourself without offending anyone

Dec. 1, was a good day. I spent my time with a friend in northwest Nebraska. I took a lot of pictures, had great conversations, and new stories to tell. Then, Dec. 2, happened. It was the kind of day that pulls the rug out from under you, upsets the apple cart, and destroys whatever good was going on in your life.

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