Carrying Out Trash and Good Stuff. Plus A Giveaway

Well, you sure can’t say I haven’t kept my word about not clogging your inbox, can you? Unless you’ve seen my occasional posts on Instagram and/or Facebook, or maybe better, followed me on Book Bub for the book reviews I post, in the unlikely chance it even crossed your mind in the past two years, you might have wondered if I’d fallen off the earth.

Not quite. The truth is I’ve found it a lot more difficult to be funny or come up with interesting things to share since my son died. I’ve wondered: do I talk about it, or just stay quiet until the world feels more normal? While I value being real and open, everyone is slogging through their own grief over something, and I doubt readers particularly want to wade into mine. But now there are increasing sources of grief for us all in the wider world, and I’m beginning to think the world just isn’t going to feel more normal, ever. So I’m realizing it’s up to me, up to all of us, to keep finding sources of laughter, beauty, joy, and to be conscious about it as one way of resisting the pain and sorrow of what we see happening in the world.

We all have to actively work for what we value and believe in, but often it’s tiring, draining work. It can become like being out in the forest picking up trash left by people too oblivious or uncaring to pick up after themselves. That example leaps to mind for a reason: my friend Barb and I find soda cans, beer bottles, Starbucks plastic, and fast food wrappers miles inside the nature preserve where we hike our dogs, and we’re not muttering kind words for those who threw it trailside as we bend to pick it up. I have to remind myself to look up, too, to forest bathe, take in the restorative beauty, to find the joy and carry that out with me, also.

So I’m including a few pictures of the spring and summer joys I’ve had while polishing up the next novel, which I’m thrilled to be able to tell you will be published next July 10. More about that coming later.  For now, in the comments section, maybe you could name one or more experiences or sights that have fed your spirit this season?

And to thank you for still being there, I’m offering a signed copy–inscribed, too, if you wish–of any of the following books to a randomly selected reader who puts a request in the comments section. It will come with a gift card to Starbucks, because who can’t find something to drink at a Starbucks??? And what goes better with a book than an indulgent drink? Here’s the choice of books available:

Where the Trail Grows Faint: A Year In the Life of A Therapy Dog Team (creative nonfiction), or one of these novels: A Matter of Mercy, Remember My Beauties, The Testament of Harold’s Wife, The Book of CarolSue.  To find out what any of these are about, consult the BOOKS section of my website by clicking on that link at the top of this page.

36 Responses to Carrying Out Trash and Good Stuff. Plus A Giveaway

  1. What a wonderful post, Lynne, full of hard won wisdom and true compassion,which we all need. I can feel my spirit and emotions come back to center every day when I swim. A true reset button. And fun!

    • So kind of you, Laura. I know what you mean about the water, too. So glad you do this. I go 3-4 days a week and that plus the forest keep me going.

      • How I envy you both. Just this morning, I was wishing I was situated somewhere that I could swim every day, my favorite exercise and the one that’s always done me the most good. Wistful as i am to be without water, I count my blessings every day that I can still move around and exert myself for at least 50-minutes to an hour, even if I’m not immersed in anything. (Because of my foot issues in the wake of my bus incident, walking or jogging for fitness is out of my reach, though happily I can walk just fine for ordinary purposes of getting from here to there. Nu, I do upper body stuff, inspired by all those classical orchestra conductors whose longevity was attributed at least in part to all that arm-waving. Every day I sit down in front of my TV screen and “conduct” the morning news.)

        • Preston, thank you for posting this! I can picture you “conducting” the morning news and rather imagine when you bring it to a crescendo, and what instruments you signal to silence themselves. It’s a fun image. I do love the water. The pictures you see are of the kids in our dear friends’ outdoor pool. But for year-round access, I take water aerobics at the nearby university center, and love it. That’s good for four or five days a week. And in the winter, I can take the kids there, too. It’s probably too obvious to even ask if you’ve considered joining a Y or some other facility for access to a heated pool? (Lots of people even do their physical therapy in the water, so I know anything can be modified to work with your post-hit-by-a bus foot issues.) Or maybe there are none near enough to you.

          • If the local Y’s pool was out of doors, I might consider it, though I have to pay a driver whenever I go anywhere, such as medical appointments. As it is, I’ve been tentatively dipping my toes back into the wider world after two years of lockdown and social distancing, but I still tend to err on the side of caution. If I meet a friend for a meal, for instance, we always dine al fresco…

  2. First I want to say, you have my deepest sympathy for the loss of your son. I find it hard to deal with the craziness that is going on in the U.S.A. I would love a copy inscribed by you in the book “Remember My Beauties.” I wish you the best for the rest of your life.

    You reminded me my l e of nature. I haven’t gone for a very long time to visit nature. I will have to do it soon.

    Thank you.


    • Oh thank you so much, Susan. I hope you do get out in nature soon. It’s such a balm to the spirit. Will you email me ( your mailing address? Would you like Remember My Beauties inscribed to you or someone else as well as signed?

  3. It has , indeed, been a time of grieving for many and an added portion for you.
    The beauty and joy I have found is in becoming a grandmother. These babies bring joy and hope. Hope for a better future for them.
    I continue to find your books also a joy. Thank you for them.

    • Thank you so much, Kathy. I’m so happy you have those beautiful grandchildren. We do want and hope so much for them, don’t we?

  4. Hello Lynne, thank you for sharing your thoughts and allowing us to contemplate our own sorrows and joys. I enjoy being outside during spring & summer, and I’m blessed to have my 8 year-old granddaughter as my partner.

    I am truly sorry for your loss.

    • Thank you, Connie. You and I both love being outside–and so glad you, too have a granddaughter! I adore my three grandchildren. (All are pictured.) Thank you so much for responding and for your kindness.

  5. Hi Lynne, first of all I am so very sorry for the loss of your son, my Heartfelt condolences to you and your whole family. This summer I have been enjoying my 2 grandchildren that live in our same town and enjoying talking to our grandson and son that live 6 hours away. My youngest sister and I visited our brother that lives in Calif. , he had been in the hospital for a month, he had bleeding in his brain, but Thank God and All the doctors and caregiver , he is doing well and pretty much back to normal, he just has to check his blood pressure every day, and I am so very grateful for my sister in law that takes and always has taken such good care of him. My husband was also in the hospital for 3 days, he was pretty sick there for a while, he got an infection after a biopsy, and he is doing well and back to normal, he was pretty sick though. We went to the followup to get his biopsy results and it happened to be on my birthday in July and Thank God the results were negative for cancer, that has been the Best birthday gift I have ever received. We enjoy going on walks every morning with our pup, we are both retired , we love seeing the beauty of nature. I would love to win your book “Remember My Beauties” it sounds like a great book, I love reading books about families. It is so very nice to receive your newsletter again. Have a great rest of the week and stay safe. God Bless you and your family my friend.

    • Alicia, thank you so much for your kindness. It sounds like you’ve had a really difficult, stressful summer with family illnesses. I’m so sorry. So glad your husband’s biopsy was negative–and yes, what an excellent birthday gift for you. I, too love being with my grandchildren–as you can see, they’re pictured. Glad you have those joys. I would be delighted to send you a copy of Remember My Beauties–I just need to have you email me ( your mailing address and whether you would like it inscribed to you (or someone else?) or only signed? Thank you again.

  6. Hi Lynne! Being lucky enough to be your cousin, I have and love all your books. I love your use of language to describe things (“forest bathe!” I ❤️ it!). Things I find that give me an uplift are walking my dogs in the morning ( although in a neighborhood – where I am fortunate enough to have a lot of really nice neighbors!), gardening, playing pickleball (!), reading ( and meeting with my book club girls), and visiting my kids ( none of whom are local!). I am thrilled to hear your new book will be available next summer!! Stay well and keep “forest bathing!!”

    • All of your summer joys are wonderful, Carol. The pictures of garden flowers you post on Facebook are absolutely gorgeous. Pickleball?! That sounds invigorating. I do water aerobics 3-4 mornings a week and really enjoy that class. I know you’re a really big reader, and I’m so grateful for your constant support of my work. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Vicki (Hmmm…I’ve forgotten which way you spell it! If I’m wrong, forgive me, please.) Yes, actively looking for joy and savoring beauty helps balance everything. I’m grateful.

  7. Your newsletter is wonderful! How we “fed our spirit” this year is a great question.

    My answer:
    1. Weeds. This summer I made friends with the weeds in my garden. Seriously. I used to get so crabby at weeds, the way they’d suddenly appear in the morning, having grown and spread overnight, edging out my rose bush and lavender. The nerve! Then I began to look more closely at the weeds and consider what they are doing. I wish I could have the resiliency of weeds.

    They have such an ability to come back to life when the gardener in me thought they were dead and gone. Some weeds have tiny little flowers and some look like lace handkerchiefs, low on the ground – a kind of green lacey blanket. Then there are the weeds that look like big fat grass that hangs out everywhere if there’s dirt. How do they conjure up all that resiliency when the world of gardeners is against them?
    Being resilient is hard – getting through the misery of the pandemic is hard especially when the world throws misery at us so muchlately. . .

    Perhaps I’m going a tad insane, but now, I angst about whether or not to pull up new weeds. And sometimes I gently toss them into the woods, hoping they find a nice new home. (crazy?)

    We’ve had severe drought here on Cape Cod, and my cat died, so all the squirrels, and bunnies, and chipmunks, and crows, and voles, and munchers aren’t afraid to visit my garden and feast. But the weeds persevere. . .
    You mentioned the beauty of the forest, and it’s funny how as humans when we walk in the forest, all of a sudden we don’t differentiate between worthy plants and weeds. There are plants and trees, growing, and then fading, and then dying, and then back to the dirt. I like that. Making friends with the weeds has filled my spirit this summer.

    All best to you, and I can’t wait for your new book!

    • Judith–I absolutely love this answer. How insightful and creative an approach, and what a way to consider resilience. You’re so right about the forest–I never see weeds there, only the beauty. Even what my botanist friend tells me are invasive plants that are choking out our native wildflowers do, admittedly, look rather gorgeous in the spring. Thank you for a new take, and for taking the time to post it here.

  8. Hello from Oxford Lane Library!
    I recently thought about you because we are gearing up for a Books By the Banks Book Festival. Then I found your email in my inbox. I am deeply sorry to hear about the loss of your son. I hope that fond memories and cherished moments bring you continued and sustained comfort. I once read a poem on the idea that our lost loved ones are the stars in the night sky shining down on us. After I read this poem and I look at the night sky I fondly think of my mother and my grandparents- all who were bright stars in my life. This simple idea comforts me because they are with me wherever I do.
    How kind of you to offer a free book give away! I’d love to read your book Where the Trail Goes Faint. A year ago I adopted a service dog who flunked out of his program! He simply liked food too much! I say he chose a different career path and I am so happy to call him my dog. He’s delightful.
    Be well and I hope our paths cross soon.
    Sincerely, Rebecca Smith

    • Rebecca, thank you so much for this lovely visual image to remember. I know well about Four Paws, and when we ultimately lose our Lab (our 2nd one from Lab Rescue) our first hope is to adopt a guide dog flunkout from them. They are wonderful, wonderful dogs. And I’m so glad Books By The Banks is returning! It’s a terrific festival, for those who don’t know, that takes place in downtown Cincinnati, but has authors and books from all over. How about if I arrange to donate a copy of Where The Trail Grows Faint to Oxford Lane Library and it happens to pass through your hands first? I really hope you love it–and hope you’ll let me know.

  9. Lynne,

    I too am so sorry for the loss of your son. I can imagine no greater pain. You are correct, there are so many things going on in our world that it seems we may never have “normal” again. Living through the pandemic taught us all, I believe, to find joy where we could. I find it in the smiles and joyful times with my grandchildren. I have to believe that at some point things will improve and the world will be better for them.

    I loved your book “Where the Trail Grows Faint”. We remember Hannah well. Your offer of a free book is very kind.

    Love your photos too!

    All the best,

    • Thank you so much, Pam. I’m so glad you loved Where The Trail Grows Faint. There’s so much of my heart in that book. We share a love of our grandchildren, too. They give me hope.

  10. I decided to give away 2 books and donate one to a library. Books go to Alicia Haney and Susan Mahaffey, and Lane Library. I sure hope you’ll still comment even though this Giveaway is over, and come back next time. I appreciate your being here–and I still promise not to clog your inbox.

  11. Lynne,

    To answer your question- Please do talk about it, staying quiet until things feel more normal will only serve to silence you. Sadly, I believe the normal you, me and everyone else is waiting for is not likely to return.
    COVID kept us isolated long enough, choosing to stay quiet strikes me as voluntarily extending the isolation.

    Odd timing- the last week or so I have been in several conversations about grief, grieving and loss. Sounds like a bummer, right? It wasn’t. I feel a little lighter. It started with a friend on the verge of tears, worried that her nightly one way conversations with her recently deceased dad weren’t normal and begged me to teach her the proper way to grieve. I assured her that it is perfectly normal, that there would only be cause for concern if he started audibly replying.

    To demonstrate that there is no one proper way to grieve or deal with loss I shared my experiences and that of others I know. I told her what you said about not finding things funny since Dave died. I shared how my sister Cheryl and I did the exact opposite thing when my dad died. Dad loved the tv show Jeopardy! I found I felt more connected when I watched it, my sister couldn’t even bear to hear the intro music. She didn’t watch it again until the COVID lockdown. Hearing the different stories made her feel much better, and strangely, I enjoyed the memories that conversation triggered.

    Please Lynne, use your wonderful talent with words and language, share the beauty you see and the bits of joy you find. Share the darkness if you feel moved to do so. There is reward in sharing and you never know who might need to see your photos or read your words.

    Can’t wait to hear more about your novel.

    • That’s a lovely story about what helped your friend, Cindy, and I also love the story about your Dad and Jeopardy. Thank you for sharing that. Of course there’s not a right way to grieve–and really, it’s not just about my personal loss; it’s about how dramatically our country, the world has changed, and how, for many of us, the awareness of possible loss, disaster, collapse, etc., that we used to stash in a dark closet now sits out in the living room, like a piece of furniture we can’t stand but can’t replace. So, in a sense, nothing has changed–yet everything has changed, because that ugly chair is out in the room and there’s no putting it back in the closet. I think many of us have to actively work balance that now. For me, I think of it as finding the beauty and wonder to carry out as well as the trash that scars it.

  12. So glad to see your blog is back! I’ve missed seeing you and Alan.

    I’ve also found joy in nature, especially selecting and arranging new unusual finds from various garden centers. I got a real kick out of the comment about weeds. I throw them in the woods too unless they are of the invasive species. But my happiest garden moments occurred when the oldest perennials reappeared and provided beauty all summer long.

    There have been losses and challenges in 2022, but we’re still finding joy with hosting family dinners on Sunday evenings, a week in the Outerbanks and also an adventure through the Canadian Rockies. I have all of your books and look forward to a new one! All the best! Judi

    • Oh, Judi–So lovely to hear that you’re finding these joys. I am so impressed that two people have commented about weeds. And how wonderful about the oldest perennials. I’m love their resilience. We all need that. Your travels sound wonderful. The Canadian Rockies, especially!–that’s something I’ve wanted to do, especially the rail trip through them. And thank you so much for being such a loyal reader. I appreciate it so very much. More coming during the fall about the new novel.

  13. Winning one of your give-aways would for me have been like carrying coals to Newcastle, since on my shelves I possess a set of the complete works of Lynne Hugo. (Eat your heart out, Victor.) I’m glad your books will be going to good homes. And I applaud and endorse your resolve moving forward, as you expressed so well in your post. What’s the slogan? “Always leave the campsite cleaner than when you found it.” You go, girl.

    PS: One way you know you’re getting old is when you say to a young person, “That’s like carrying coals to Newcastle” and they don’t know what you mean. (Another way you know, as I’ve actually experienced, is when you’re watching TV and a commercial comes on and you see a guy you once acted with in New Canaan Children’s Theater playing a grandfather taking his grandson to a ball game where he’s glad he uses the sponsor’s product so that he won’t have to go to the bathroom so often.)

    • Thank you so much, Preston, for being such a loyal reader. (Really! the story about the commercial actor? Amazing.)

  14. Thanks for your inspiring post. It has had me reflecting on the loss of our daughter 26 years ago. She was only 21 and left a 4-year old daughter, who we (eventually) had the pleasure of raising. You are so right about normal – it seems we are always having to adjust to a new normal. A dear friend who had lost a son gave me a clipping that contained the most true and helpful words I’ve heard. Basically it was that for a long, long, long time your loss will be right in your face and every single thing will be colored by it, but eventually, without you even realizing it, it will shift just a bit to the side. It will never go away but it won’t always be pressing on your every breath. I didn’t believe it at the time, but it was true.

    As for something that lifted my spirits, that same 4-year old is now 30 and we are happy she is living with us. Before we began raising her as a child she endured some horrific things with her biological father, resulting in PTSD and years of struggle. She has worked very hard to make changes, confront things, and just grow into the wonderful woman she is. We are lucky to have our daughter’s daughter in our lives.

    I am looking forward to the release of your next book. Your stories are so touching; they have stayed with me a long time. If you are still have a book to give away I have not read Remember My Beauties.

    All the best to you on your continuing journey. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

    • Sally, I feel for you over the loss of your daughter and am so glad you have had and have your granddaughter with you. Like you, we’ve had our son’s daughter in our lives (in our case since she was born) and I’m grateful to say that we were just able to see her well-married this spring (see photo in my post). As he did for our daughter, my husband officiated at her wedding and it was, for sure, an enormous joy. I’m so glad you’ve been able to help your granddaughter deal with her PTSD and to be a steadfast presence and support to her–that’s a wonderful and meaningful purpose.
      What you’ve said about the clipping your friend gave you is an incredibly useful and helpful way to conceive of recovery from a crushing loss. I’m really grateful to you for sharing that.
      I’m so sorry I’m totally out of Remember My Beauties. I had to order copies myself. I see there are some used on Amazon, and your library may well be able to get it for you. I hope you’ll love it if you read it. And thank you so much for your interest in the next book–I’m really looking forward to being able to start talking about it. The publisher has sent me the cover, and I’m honestly thrilled with it, not something I can always say about the covers.

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