Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Words That Wouldn't Come

Sharon Drummond

This is how blogging, or writing in general, has been working for me:

Voice in head:  "Oh wow, I just thought of a great idea!  I'll bet others would be interested to know this!  I'm going to write about it."

Five days later (because I totally ROCK at procrastination)...  sits down to write post...

Voice in head:  "That is the dumbest idea I've ever heard.  Why do you think people would want to read that?  Just give up already."

This has been my writing life for so many years, including tonight. 

I can remember the days when I couldn't write or type fast enough to get all of the words out of my head.  And they were good words, in my humble opinion.  Certainly better than anything I've written lately.  And I didn't even have to try.  The words flowed like a river clear of any boulders or tree roots to hamper the path. 

These days it's hard to even form the words in my head, and those words that do form just don't want to come.  They are very stubborn words.

I think part of the problem is that I try to write for other people instead of myself.  I am constantly thinking about what others will think when they read what I've written.  I wonder what they will think about my words, and what they will think about me.  Even my journaling has succumbed to those thoughts.  So, now the words don't want to come, for fear of being judged or ridiculed or ignored altogether.  I don't blame them, really.  That's a horribly harsh environment for such fragile little words.

So, you can consider this blog post to be a sheet of lined notebook paper containing a few handwritten words, crumpled up into a tight ball and tossed at the trashcan.  (It lands just short of the trashcan just to mock me.)  I could just delete what I've written here, but I think I will leave it.  This is, after all, my personal blog, and I want it to be a chronicle of the hard, frustrating times of my writing life.  Because once that first novel is published and displayed in bookstore windows, I'll think back to days like this and just laugh and laugh...

Until next time, be well.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

365/30 List: Goals for This Month

promanex

This post is coming to you from my phone.  Don't you just love technology?

During the month of April, I am participating in 365/30 Lists.  It's basically a challenge for those who love to make lists to make those lists something meaningful, like a journal of sorts.  There's a list topic for each day of the week, and a different list for each month.

Today's list prompt is "goals for this month."  This is quite appropriate for me, since we are now in the fourth month of the year and I still haven't written out my goals.  Ugh.  Maybe monthly goals is the better way for me to go for now.

So, without further ado, here are my goals for this month.  I'll expand on each one in another post, as typing on my phone is more difficult than I thought it would be!

1.  Write a blog post every day.

2.  Ride the recumbant bike three times a week.

3.  Read five pages of fiction a night.

4.  Meditate for ten minutes every day.

5.  Drink three bottles of water every day.

So, there you have it.  I think these goals are quite doable, and hope to make each one of them a habit.

Do you like to make lists?  If so, you might enjoy the 365/30 List challenge.  I can't link to it here because I'm on my phone, but if you do a search for "365/30 Lists," you'll find links to the full list for April.

Must go for now.  My thumbs are getting tired!  

Until next time, be well.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Has Sprung. Bye Bye Winter!


I'm sitting on the couch, the balcony doors are open, and the birds are singing frantically before they bed down for the night.  We've had gentle rain showers off and on this evening.  While the rain is falling, the birds are quiet.  But as soon as the rain stops, the birds start chattering away.  I think they are rejoicing because they know that the chilly days and cold nights are on short time.

It definitely feels like Spring now.  We've had a few warm days early in this Spring, but they've been followed by blasts of nasty cold.  This day, however, has felt different.  It feels like a real Spring day, and not like Winter is trying to trick us into putting our winter coats and ice scrapers away.  The weather forecast for the next week is full of late afternoon thunderstorms and warm days and cool nights.  I'm looking forward to that.

Those who know me know that I really love Winter, and most especially the snow.  During the Winter months (and sometimes in the late Fall) I start publicly wishing for snow and doing my snow dance.  We don't get a lot of snow in these parts, so I'm often a disappointed pouty face.  I should know by now not to get my hopes up.

What I've come to realize, though, is that what I truly love is the change of seasons.  Spring and Fall are my favorite, because they are the most drastic of changes in our neck of the woods. 

Summer is sweltering, with hot and humid days and nights, so the transition to Fall is most welcome.  Fall soon transitions to Winter here, which really has less to do with cold temperatures and snow, and more to do with the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons for me (yes, I know Winter doesn't happen until just before Christmas...).  They are my absolute without a doubt favorite times of the year, for reasons I've outlined in previous blog posts, and if I haven't, I will outline them in a future blog post. 

Even after a dreary Winter which includes much less snow than I wish for, I'm ready for the warm air, and so in late February I start to look forward to Spring.  It usually doesn't really arrive here until late March or early April, and I think this year She is right on schedule.  By now I'm tired of the sweaters and turtlenecks and throw blankets, and am ready for sunshine on my skin.

So here's to a lovely Spring to come.  I'm looking forward to the blooming flowers and bushes and trees (okay, not so much the yellow pollen carpet that will cover our world), and the warm days and nights, and the thunderstorms.  And I'm looking forward to the kids coming out to play with their bikes and scooters and soccer balls (just don't hit the cars, kids!), and getting more of that precious Vitamin D myself.

Until next time, be well.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Daily Planner Pages - January 2014

Hi there!

Part of my monthly review and planning includes removing the previous month's pages from my planner and archiving them.  I usually do that during the first weekend of the month.  (For example, during the first weekend of April, I will do my monthly review for March, which will include taking the March pages out of my planner and archiving them.) 

I thought it would be fun to show you how I use my daily planner pages.  Because I use two pages per day in my planner, it's just not practical to show photos of each page.  So I filmed a quick video (really quick -- only 3 minutes long!).  Check it out!


Do you use a paper planner?  I'd love to see how you use your pages.  If you're not a paper planner user, what do you use to keep track of your day-to-day?  Please share in the comments below!

Until next time, be well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On Missing My Filofax Peeps, and OMG I Miss Facebook

Hi there!  I have a couple of blog posts in process, but I haven't been able to finish them because of work and errands and such.  I hope to finish them up tomorrow.

In the meantime, tonight is really the first time that I have missed Facebook.  Partly because we purchased some goodies for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day parade, and my impulse was to take a photo and post it.  Typically I post photos to Instagram, and Instagram automatically posts to Facebook for me.  But APPARENTLY that would be cheating, so I can't even do that!  Oh this is hard.  This is very hard.

Really, though, the biggest reason I'm missing Facebook, and the reason I came here tonight when I should be doing other things, is because I miss being able to participate in the Filofax groups I belong to.

If you don't already know, I am a paper planner junkie.  I'm a lover of the Filofax brand, and have a couple of Filofax binders that I adore.  However, I'm using a Franklin Covey binder right now for my planner needs for various reasons.  At any rate, I am really missing the interaction I have with the like-minded people that I am friends with in the various Facebook groups, and I am really hating not being able to participate!  I've been six days so far without Facebook. (That's it?!  Seriously?!  I just went through this whole exercise of recounting the days until Easter Sunday, and even got Mr. Babycakes involved because I didn't think I was coming up with the correct number.  As it stands now, I have 34 more days to go.  O. M. G.) 

Aside from the Filofax groups, I'm going to experience the St. Patrick's Day parade without posting anything to social media.  That is harsh.  Because we have a really fun time at the St. Patrick's Day parade.

But honestly, now that I'm thinking about it, I really miss the interaction with my Facebook friends and family.  There are some who I interacted with almost every day.  I'm starting to wonder how they're doing, and what they're up to. 

Oh this is tough.  I shouldn't have started this post, because now I'm REALLY missing Facebook.  I'd better stop now before I cave.  (For the record, I have not cheated one single time.  And that is HUGE for me.  Because typically I have a really hard time doing anything for several days in a row.  It's funny, because I'm at six days without FB so far, and usually when I start to squirm is around seven days.  Bingo.)

So I know this post had very little substance, and I appreciate those who are still hanging in.  This is a good sociology experiment.  On myself.  Can you even do that?  Should you?!

That's it for now.  Until next time, be well.

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Surviving the Facebook Cleanse (Day 3)

dr. motte

Hi there!  I hope you all have had a great week.  It's been cold and rainy here for the past few days, but the weekend is supposed to bring Spring-like temperatures.  I love Winter, but I think I'm ready for some warmth and sunshine!

So, if you read my last blog post, you know that I've given up Facebook for Lent.  Today is the third day, and I am proud to say that I have not cheated once!  I removed the app from my iPhone, I removed the shortcut from my browser, and I have a big ol' Post-It note on my laptop to remind me:  "No Facebook until Easter!"  I did find myself going through my day yesterday thinking of little snippets to use for a status.  I thought that was interesting.  I don't think it's a bad thing that I think of posting to Facebook throughout my day, because really I just want to share my day with my family and friends.  Anyway, I'm really happy that I've given it up for a while, and have not regretted my decision once yet.  I'm finding that I really do have more time to do other things.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I intended on spending that extra time on my writing -- writing here on the blog, writing in my journal, and working on my novel.  Now, granted, it's only been three days, and I've been pretty busy at work, so the only spare time I've had has been after my work day and after my home stuff is finished.  Still, though, I haven't gotten much writing done.  In fact, this post and my previous post have been the only writing so far.  I'm not worried.  There's still plenty of time.

I have had one project on my to-do list for quite a while, and finally got around to starting it last night.  I started working on my family tree at Ancestry.com.  And oh my goodness it has turned into something pretty cool!  I'm going to write about it in detail in my next post here, but let's just say that I came across my father's baby book -- that I didn't even know I had! -- and discovered three handwritten letters from 1945 from my grandfather to his baby son (my dad).  I was completely stunned when I found them!  This project has turned into something that I wasn't expecting, and I'm so excited to see where it will take me. 

Well, I think this is all for now.  I just wanted to pop in with a quick update.  I hope you all are well and happy, and have fun things planned for your weekend!

Until next time, be well.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Meaning of Lent and Giving Up Facebook


Tonight at midnight marks the first day of Lent.  For those who do not know about Lent, it is the spiritual time for Christians that spans the 40 days before Easter.  It is a time of reflection and repentance, moderation and sacrifice.  It is a time to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and the mark he left on the world.

I was born and raised a Catholic, but fell away from the church in my adult life.  Some would say I am a "non-practicing Catholic."  Mind you, I in no way fell away from God, and in fact I feel a stronger spiritual connection now more than ever.  I just fell away from the Church.  But that's another story for another day, and is not really important in this context.

What is important is that the Easter season is my favorite "spiritual" season.  Next to Christmas, of course.  :) 

During Christmas, I am always excited and rejuvenated.  I enjoy thinking about and celebrating the birth of Jesus.  I feel like a kid again during the Christmas season, because I am reminded of all of the traditions my Mother started for us while we were young, and the new traditions that were started as we grew older.  It's a time filled with family and friends and traditions, and is generally a very happy time for me.

Easter, on the other hand, is more of a reflective time.  I tend to go inward, and think more about my spiritual life and my relationship with God.  It is a somber time as I remember the horrible punishment Jesus endured, and how poorly he was treated, and how he was ridiculed and discriminated against.  I get very sad when I think about how alone he must have felt.  Yes, he was the Son of God, but he was also a human being.  And the pain he endured, both mentally and physically, must have been unbearable.  And then I am reminded that there are many in our own neighborhoods who are experiencing the same kind of emotional and physical pain today.  It is all very sad, really, and makes me extremely grateful for the life I have.

So, getting back to Lent, it is a tradition for me, as for many Christians, to "give something up" during Lent.  It is supposed to be something that is very hard to do, and will be very uncomfortable.  Usually I try giving up chocolate, or swearing, or some other superfluous thing.  And usually I can't make it to Easter.  Forty days is like an eternity for me to try to do something consistently.  Heck, I can't even succeed with seven-day whitening strips!

This year, though, I want things to be different.  I need things to be different.  I'm not a young chick anymore.  I'm getting older, and each year goes by faster and faster and faster.  I'm spending too much time on unimportant things, and not enough time on the things that mean the most to me.  I am busy with work and family, and I'm not spending the extra time I have on the things that are most important to me.  I'm so, so afraid that I am going to reach the end of my life and be filled with regret.

So this year I am going to do something different.  I am going to give something up for Lent, but at the same time I am going to honor myself by doing something for me.  For forty whole days.  Some may say that this is not the "proper way to honor God," but I would disagree.  How best to honor God then by honoring myself, who was made in His own image?

So here's my plan for Lent:  I'm giving up Facebook.  For forty whole days.  I'm not going to visit Facebook to see what my friends and family are up to, I'm not going to visit Facebook to play the time suck that is Candy Crush, and I'm not going to post status updates.

I will, however, use that time to write and reflect.  And some of that writing will include daily updates here on this blog.  Trust me, I spend a LOT of time on Facebook, so there will be much time to spare.

In some eyes, this might seem inconsequential and not really a sacrifice at all.  But you have no idea.  As I said, I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and zero time writing.  Which is my passion, and what I feel my Soul wants most to do.  Giving up Facebook will be very hard.  Making myself sit down to write will be very hard.  I don't hold much self-discipline, so this will be a true test for me.  But I really want to do it, because I feel that it holds some real value for my life.

So, as of midnight tonight, I'll be away from Facebook.  (That's just a little over three hours!  Eek!)  And I'll plan to go back on Easter Sunday.  Maybe.  I may find out at the end of this exercise that my priorities have shifted, and that growth will have occurred.  That is my prayer.

I invite you to follow along on this journey of mine.  You can subscribe to this blog over there in the side bar -- you can subscribe for email updates, or RSS feed updates.  Or you can just add journalkeeper.com to your favorites and check in every day.  It's up to you!  But I hope you'll join me either way.  I have a feeling I will need LOTS of encouragement.

Thanks for reading.  Be well.