Five Minute Friday: EXCUSE

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.”

Today’s prompt: EXCUSE

Five Minute Friday

I don’t like excuses, not one bit.

I had a therapist briefly in college —- it was my first time having therapy of any kind. One of her big observations is “you make everything hard.” As in — you seem to find an excuse for everything not working out the way you want.

That particular conversation probably carries more weight in my head 35 years later than it really deserves.

Maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing. I think I’m the kind of person who embraces “hard” but I also know I make things unduly difficult.

One of my part-time jobs is very exacting (my kind of thing!). But as human beings do, I make errors sometimes. One thing this job has done (and the development of Dad’s passing had something to do with this too) is that it has made me be more diligent about getting to bed (I’m sure my coworker who “chatted” with me online when she was starting work in Jerusalem and I was “still” up/not in bed in the US at a previous job would chuckle at this.

It’s near impossible to be careful with language when you’re exhausted.

And the next step will be managing my time even better to fit in the things I want to do. To write, to submit to places that will pay me to write, to (gasp!) clean the house (well, given our soon-to-list status, to declutter the house).

Excuse me for a moment while I go make a plan….

Five Minute Friday

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Five Minute Friday: SILENCE

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.”

Today’s prompt: SILENCE

Five Minute Friday

Do we ever get to the point that we overcome our tendency to silence when our mental wheels are flying and we actually do have something constructive to say?

I’m pretty familiar with all the research about introverts …. and the fact that we like to (need to?) process internally before speaking externally.

I don’t have any problem speaking spontaneously if given a topic. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Table Topics (2-minute impromptu speeches) at Toastmasters.

It’s when my rep is on the line, when I am being challenged for something I did or did not do, that I don’t speak up.

It’s probably why I like to write. It’s probably why I blog.

But silence in these situations does not equal power, sadly.

Contradicting most of what I wrote above (or maybe complementing it) is my constant filtering of how overly defensive I feel in any number of situations.

I will be silent instead of giving that defensiveness life or breath (except to people who know me really well, so thanks to you people with the patient ears and accepting psyches).

Silence is not weakness, exactly. It’s more of an atrophy of the impetus to take care of what we need to express. It’s like a drawbridge always stuck in the up position, keeping anything from crossing.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: NEED

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.”

Today’s prompt: NEED

 

 

I already did a five-minute free write this week that included the word “need.” I thought about using it for today, but I am choosing not to.

It was a piece I wrote on Medium, which is where I write when I don’t feel the message is “ready” for my “real blog” or I just need to vent.

The issue? My frustration with a family member who feels differently than I do about our choice to have Dad live with us for three years until he died in July. The family member hasn’t told me this directly, but I have heard it through others.

It was getting me worked up.

The thing is ……. as many other pivotal situations in my life have demonstrated:

THAT FAMILY MEMBER’S OPINION IS ABOUT THAT FAMILY MEMBER, NOT ME.

In choosing to give it energy, I am making it about what I perceive I need out of the situation. That family member’s opinion is exactly that: one person’s opinion.

I was the one with the privilege of caring for Dad for three years, with the challenges and (small) victories of meeting his needs.

Why do we so often feel the compulsion to change others’ opinions when the fact that they express them publicly really isn’t a volley of any kind on their part. It is the equivalent of them firing a blank.

(But writing that piece on Medium was still catharatic, I must say!)

That’s really all that needs to be said.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-seven: Overcome

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s prompt: Overcome

I mistyped a word at work today (you know, the place with the pristine editing standards?) and did not realize until several hours later when I saw the final version (which an editor had, thankfully, corrected).

I was summarizing a really interesting piece about how vendors have to overcome their reluctance to engage a client in some difficult questions when something goes wrong — that it’s more the tendency to fall all over themselves creating some new process to fix the problem or prevent it in the future.

The problem with that overreaction is … it doesn’t address the root cause and ultimately DOESN’T help the client because the problem will inevitably arise again if it isn’t fixed.

Throughout the article, the author talked about measuring things — and he used the word “gage” (his spelling — this is important) SIXTEEN TIMES.

Therefore, I typed it that way when summarizing the article.

The problem? He was convinced he was right.

But he wasn’t.

And I, trying to be quick and efficient, turned off the part of my brain that would in any other situation have sent out a red alert that he meant “gauge.”

There’s currently an ad campaign on CNN that shows a picture of an apple. The WORDS of the ad say “banana banana banana” — point being that no matter what people call it, the apple is still an apple (and CNN’s point is about fake news but I’ll leave that for a different day).

Such a parallel for those times in life when we are so overcome by the repetition of the wrong thing that it starts to sound right.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Six: Story

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. (Confession: I *may* not be able to resist spell-checking!)

Today’s prompt: Story

I have a story to tell you. I’m not proud of it, but there’s a moral, for sure.

My husband’s 90-year-old Aunt flew from south Florida to Tallahassee/Thomasville this weekend to attend my niece’s beautiful wedding.

Wayne picked her up at the Tallahassee airport and we delivered her to her hotel in Thomasville. Mistake number one (assumption number one) was that the family members staying at the hotel would transport her to the wedding, since they were all at the same hotel and we would be traveling up from Tallahassee.

As family member after family member filed into the wedding venue, we thought “hmm…guess Aunt Mary will be with the next family member.”

Eventually, we realized that we were out of family members and there was no Aunt Mary to be found.

That is because she was (wait for it) still in the lobby at the hotel waiting for a ride.

After considerable scrambling around and the very generous services of a family friend who was not at the wedding, she was delivered to the wedding venue ….. just as the bride and groom walked down the aisle for the first time as husband and wife.

This is not a story I am proud of …. not our lack of communication …. not our inability to somehow teleport her there in time to see the nuptials she had gone to considerable expense to see. It was a “family fail” in every way.

There’s no epilogue — just maybe a new book to be written: How to get “married” with making sure “Mary” is merry (not to mention actually there….)

The moral is not novel or earthshattering, but after our experience it bears repeating: never assume.

Writing Challenge

Five Minute Friday: DEPEND

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: DEPEND

Five Minute Friday

I spent about two hours today, in my in-laws’ old house. I have probably only been there 5-10 times in the three or so years since my father-in-law moved out.

The residents who have been there have been gracious about the fact that we basically left the house “as-is.” When I was cleaning last night, I came across CANDY that had been sitting in a desk for three years. Licorice, petrified chocolate (what a waste!).

Today, though, was different. The carpet cleaners had left the carpet pristine. Most of the furniture was gone.

It was just me and my memories. I actually made a little video talking to all the nieces and my nephews about my memories. I didn’t send it, though. I know I sound sad in the video, when I was actually more “reflective.”

It just seemed like a situation that warranted thoughts before the next tenant makes the place hers.

Will I share the video? I have limited time (sort of), because I framed it as “let’s walk down memory lane before Olivia’s wedding (my niece). And she gets married Saturday. I want Saturday to be ALL happy. No questions about whether I am being “reflective” or morose.

How will my relatives take this memory lane walk?

I guess it depends, but I won’t know if I don’t share it. I emphasized something in the video, though — which is how much we are so fortunate to have one another, good times and bad, and to have had my in-laws take such deeply intense care of us, especially my kids, who they took care of for the first two years of their lives until they went to day care.

Five Minute Friday

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Five Minute Friday: ACCEPT

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: ACCEPT

Five Minute Friday

My heart is heavy over an incident in our community that is full of non-acceptance.

A local teacher sent a letter out to the families of her fifth graders – a typical “about me” kind of “beginning of the school year” note – and explained that the teacher is “gender-neutral,” prefers to be addressed as “Mx.” (pronounced ‘mix’), and to be addressed with the pronouns they/them/their.

Insanity erupted, fueled (apparently) by a “moms” Facebook group that was heavily on the “ugly” side about this.

THEN it went to the local paper …. then to the national media …. then the apologies started – the teacher for any confusion created, the principal for [I don’t recall the principal’s statement], the superintendent for the whole thing (he noted he is responsible for everything done in our district).

My biggest issue is the utter hostility among adults about this.

CAVEAT: I know this site [Five Minute Friday] has its roots among Christian writers and I realize there is probably a WIDE array of how people feel about this topic …. but I am frightened of a world where people, frankly, show such un-Christian behavior toward an educator, a fellow human being, a person who reiterated that they intend to address students by their chosen pronouns (I am sure at that school that means 100% “he” and “she”).

Then there are the social media comments. So ugly and hateful.

This is a time for acceptance. It is a matter that transcends grammar. Five Minute Friday

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Five Minute Friday: SUPPORT

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: SUPPORT.

 

Five Minute Friday

 

Support is sometimes (often) easier to give than it is to ask for (case in point: ME). I am reading the most interesting, compelling book right now – How to Get Run Over By A Truck.

The author describes laying there, in her hospital bed, with more broken bones and internal injuries than I can possibly describe …. when her friends are finally allowed to visit after she is moved from ICU. She says “I wanted to be the one supporting a patient, not the patient.” AMEN, sister, AMEN.

During one of my college jobs, I worked for someone I respected a great deal. I organized a retreat under her supervision, and things about the retreat didn’t go perfectly (it wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t a home run). I remember telling her afterwards that I had felt abandoned.

AND …… why didn’t I speak up when the “abandoned” feeling started to creep in?

Some of those same types of issues have crept up lately as I have hesitated to ask “small” questions, the answers to which *may* prevent *big* issues.

I have gotten better at it, at asking the little questions, but the flip side of that is being perceived as “that person who isn’t confident in her own answers, in her ability to solve problems on her own.”

Hurricane Irma probably demonstrated why we sometimes just need to overcome our hesitance and ASK. I think it’s easier to ask when it is on behalf of someone else’s welfare than our own sometimes, but aren’t we worth answer, solutions, support ourselves?

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: WORK

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: WORK.

 

Five Minute Friday

Work. SO weird that it ended up being the word of the week since I brought up my new part-time gig in the lead-up Twitter party.

I love working (usually) AND I also believe work is something much more broad than what we do for which we are paid.

Work was the effort, love and energy I put into raising my family.

Work was the three years I spent being caregiver for my father-in-law.

I do struggle with one concept (among others). I have always embraced the book title, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” However, there’s a popular self-help author who argues that “passion” and working to “fulfill your passion” is crazy. No wonder I disagree with him on other things too.

I struggle (look for the word “struggle” more than once in this five minutes!) with my work life. I loved Healthy Kids (where I worked almost 20 years) but never quite found the sweet spot of my skills and the organization’s goals.

My point: sometimes it isn’t enough to love a place if you aren’t a good fit.

I can beat myself up with the best of them and demand perfection of myself, but it’s such a balancing act to figure out how to best funnel your skills (and the new things you make a point to learn along the way) into a work situation where they are needed (and where you can keep growing simultaneously).

I made an error today at Part Time Job #1 and didn’t realize I had made it until the final came out (I am one in a series of writers who touch the material). I can either beat myself up for it or remind myself that tomorrow is a new day.

Seems like work again tomorrow, and a new opportunity to pursue that fit.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: NEIGHBOR

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: NEIGHBOR  .

Five Minute Friday

Mr. Rogers was onto something when he asked, “won’t you be my neighbor?”

When I learned the prompt for this week was “neighbor,” I was tempted to do what is a typical format for me: talk about my current experience of being a neighbor and having neighbors, and how I wish I could have done some things about that differently (in retrospect).

My mind, though, fell on a neighbor I had when I was in high school. Although we weren’t “technically” neighbors (we lived about a mile apart), it was a small enough town that everyone was sort of your neighbor.

I would drop in, unannounced, at her house, and she (busy working parent of three young boys) would always be gracious about it, always work my visit into whatever was going on anyway.

I remember one time when she was baking her son’s birthday cake.

I don’t really multi-task well like that (baking AND making conversation?!) but she did.

And she ended up being there for me during what was, to put it mildly, a “rough patch.”

I am grateful for her, and wonder what happened to neighbors whose doors are always open. I know myself well enough to know that, despite my childhood dreams of being “that house all the kids hang out at,” I am really an introvert with a pretty inflexible way of doing things and was never meant to be “that mom.”

BUT, hopefully I have been the neighbor that was needed (except for that “tall grass citation thing….).

And perhaps the cyber world gives me an opportunity to be neighborly in an equally important way.Five Minute Friday

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