FIRST MONDAY: Do What You Can!

Last night I had dinner with a woman whose 9-year-old niece has a best-seller on Amazon!

As I listened in polite amazement I was thinking back over the past 20 years
of my own life and wondering where did I go wrong? 

·      How many TV shows did I watch instead of sitting
down to write?

·      How many dishes did I wash instead of sitting down
to write?

·      How many papers did I grade instead of sitting
down to write?

·      How many days did I spend doubting instead of sitting
and writing?

What did this little girl figure out in her few short years that I haven’t yet in my long life?

And here I am at the end of another year with an unfinished manuscript on my night stand. What is wrong with me if a 9-year-old can write a best-seller and I can’t even finish a manuscript?

It’s easy to get discouraged, isn’t it?

I work with students all the time who start out strong, then get lost somewhere
along the way.  The first few weeks of the semester they’re smiling and engaged. They tell me they made straight A’s in high school and plan to be doctors, lawyers or computer engineers. They sit in the front row and turn in their assignments on time, but then just before the mid-term their attendance gets a little sketchy. They become less engaged in class discussions and start turning in late work! By the time the semester skids to a close the A student is clinging to a C and bargaining for bonus points.  While their appearance on the first day was clean-cut, by the last day they’re wearing tattered sweats
and sunglasses to hide the dark circles–too many sleepless nights—maybe spent studying not partying—it just depends if the A student is still striving or if she’s given up.

I get it.  There are a thousand and one reasons why that thing you were hoping to accomplish didn’t pan out—it turned out to be harder than you thought, required a bit more time and effort than you anticipated. Now you have to regroup and decide whether you want to invest that much of yourself to get it.

How bad do you want it?

Sometimes unforeseen circumstances derail you, take you off course and the thing you’re going for gets pushed farther from your reach. Now you have to wait. But the same question applies: 

 How bad do you want it?

If the goal that we’re after is worth having, there shouldn’t be anything strong enough to keep us from attaining it.  Here we are at the end of another year, but this is not the time to wallow.  This is the time to do what you can. 

If you’re a college student, recognize that this is not high school. There are different expectations, different study habits, different responsibilities. You may have to re-group and try again, but do what you can.

If you’re an adult pursuing a dream, recognize that failure is not the end. There are many pathways to success and myriad ways to accomplish your goals. Fear less. Trust more, but do what you can.

It’s amazing that a 9-year-old could write a bestselling book, but you know how she did it?  By following directions for a class assignment.  She began by simply doing what she could and she did her best. I believe if I just did what I could there’d be room enough for her talent and mine on Amazon’s best seller list. 

I won’t stop pushing. What about you?

Phillipians 4:13

 

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Mayhem Monday: A Good Reason to Sneak Out on Your Spouse!

Marrying an even-tempered man had its advantages, but sometimes it made her crazy! Although they rarely argued, Janet often felt like she was going through her emotional experiences all alone–with someone who wasn’t affected by them. Mark saw change as mere, matter-of-fact occurrences unworthy of comment or discussion. What, then, should Janet do with her comments and expressions? So often she wanted to express herself, but found that when she did the people in her house—not just her husband, but her children too—looked at her with puzzled, annoyed or amused expressions and shook their heads. As if to say, “here goes crazy mom again,” overreacting as usual.

Nevermind that so many changes in her life were happening so fast and she didn’t like them, but Mark seemed unphased. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t get him to join her in the amazement.

“Look at these pictures from 20 years ago!” She would exclaim. “Look how young everyone was!”

No reaction.

“Oh my gosh, can you believe our daughter’s going to college already!”

Barely a blip on the radar.

“Wow, it seems like just yesterday we brought our baby home from the hospital, now look he’s almost taller than me!”

“Yep.”

Janet’s a writer. Mark’s a scientist.  For Janet, these important life changes are intertwined with her creative work and an important part of how she processes everything that is going on around her.  So, when she writes something she’s especially proud of, she naturally wants to share it with her family. Of course, her family is politely supportive, but, when you’re the creative and emotional one who sees the world in metaphor and they’re the logical, matter-of-fact types who see everything in black and white, once the creative piece you’re sharing extends beyond a couple of sentences, a glassy look comes into their eyes and there’s a sound of birds chirping in the distance. The chirping stops, abruptly, when she gets to the last sentence, and, of course, everyone smiles politely and says “that was very good,”  and she’s appeased, but empty, because she and they know what’s true.

It’s a lonely life.

You’re emotional. You feel things deeply. You “read” the world and people like a book and think about life and seasons in ways that others don’t. When you try to talk about those things, people look at you and listen, but they don’t really see you or hear. When conversations begin and you join in, they stop, or shift, or shut down, because you bring an entirely new perspective that no one thought of, or considered. They move on and leave you with your thoughts, unengaged.

It’s just our lot as creative thinkers.

But, maybe there are others who are like us who can appreciate the significance of the change happening all around, who will “oh my gosh” and “wow” and “amen” along side us while digging into the deeper meanings of those experiences and help us process them. It is not strange that we should need this, even if those around us do not. It is not strange that we should desire to discuss and write about and display our emotions in response to the world we experience, even if spouses do not. But, what we need is a space to do so that is free from the disparaging gaze of those who don’t understand, because the disapproving eye has so much power over the soul. Their disinterest makes us second-guess ourselves and their wrinkled brow squelches our light.

We will inevitably live and/or work with those who function outside of our mental space. But, perhaps it will stretch us in some way, make us work harder, think more…it will certainly give us something to write about.

Yet, in order to do our work, we must sneak away…for the sake of our souls, we must find a safe space, maybe even a secret place…and, if we can, a like-minded group. Forget about the people in your house! They might love you, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for your writing life. Find a writer’s group—even one online! But you mustn’t let go of your pen.

Shhh, even if we have to keep it secret, whatever we do, we’ll keep writing!

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Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

 

Monday Mayhem! How to Get Back to Work after Vacation

Good Morning and Welcome to the post-holiday hustle!

For many of us, today marks the first offical day back to work and school after the Christmas and/or New Year’s break. I wouldn’t doubt that many of you are struggling to shake off that holiday sludge and shift into work mode again. Whether you were off for a long weekend or you were lucky enough to enjoy a full two weeks, coming back to work is hard!

For us writers the struggle is the same. When you work from home it’s even harder to shift from “lazy day” to “work day” since the physical space doesn’t change. That’s why we have to get dressed and go to our office or desk or corner that we’ve designated for writing and mentally (if not physically) shut out everything else (i.e. laundry, dishes, cat litter, etc.).

Two things help me jumpstart my work flow: exercise & a power breakfast. So today–and every Monday*–I will share with you a surefire energizer to help you go from “no” to “go” in no time! Now, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have the time nor the desire for either of these things when you’re already dragging yourself out of bed late and you have to get the kids off to school. But don’t worry! I’m talking about two Monday morning habits that will take very little time–trust me!

Now, as a disclaimer, I would still advise that you find 30-60 minutes at least three times a week to get in a good workout. Find something you enjoy: swimming, basketball, spin class, kickboxing, whatever! Your body will thank you! But, on those mornings, like today, when you’re doing good just to roll out of bed, try this:

  1. throw on some shorts or stay in your pjs and do 10 jumping jacks, up to 10 push-ups and 10 squats (click here to see how you can modify these exercises according to your fitness level)
  2. go start the coffee brewing or heat up the teapot, wake up the kids (if you have kids), then…
  3. repeat step 1!
  4. sweeten your coffee or tea and start prepping Ayesha Curry’s Greek Yogurt parfait…you may also have to shake up the kids again, then…
  5. repeat step 3!
  6. take a shower, finish prepping your power breakfast, then hurry yourself and the kids out the door

What’s great about this is you can congratulate yourself for starting off your Monday with an exercise that will boost your energy level, but won’t require an unreasonable time commitment.

If you have time, sit and enjoy your power breakfast while reading something inspirational like Proverbs 31. If not, prep that parfait in a plastic cup and take it on the road! Your body and your mind should be warmed up now and ready to face the day.

Check back every Monday for another “Monday Mayhem” energizer!

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*Of course, you don’t have to reserve this routine for Mondays. Since Monday was a holiday, this was written on a Tuesday! Anyway, it works on any day when you’re having a hard time pulling it together. Let me know how you feel after trying this energizer and tell me what you think of Ayesha’s parfait, I think it’s super yummy! Or maybe you found a way to make it your own, tell me about it!

Happy Monday!

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