155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Eight: Truth

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: Truth

I would be a horrible poker player. If I am holding the wrong cards but don’t want my fellow players to know, I am likely to give myself away. I am a horrible liar, white lie, big lie — any lie.

BUT —- being a caregiver of someone with severe short-term memory loss helped me hone my skills in the “white lie” department. Over the three years, I came to see that as a compassionate thing (and a sanity saver for me).

One of my fears as I weigh out whether or not to write a book about my caregiving experience is the concern that I am rapidly losing the details. I wish I had kept a journal. It all seemed so  fraught at the time — emotionally, from a time management perspective, etc.

But white lies, they happened. Before the first bout of cancer, Dad was still determined to get to the bar every day (he had a habit of going at 4 p.m.). A day’s level of “pleasant” was made or broken on whether we went or not. I don’t recall that I ever downright said it was “closed” BUT I definitely said my husband was “still at work” when I knew he was at the bar (he goes there every day after work himself).

He lived for his son to get home (second, I guess to living to go to the bar every day). It wouldn’t do for him to know Wayne was there but I had not taken Dad.

The truth is, we have to be creative sometimes to provide the most loving environment for the people in our lives.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Seven: Hold

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!)

But as for you, return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God. (Hosea 12:6)

Today’s prompt: Hold

Hosea 12:6, depending on what version you read, says “hold fast to love and justice.” The context involves directing someone who has strayed from God.

It seems to me this is a critical directive for our times. In my morning job, I summarize news stories about legal matters. Given the current political environment, many of the stories involve a judge or legislator who has taken it upon themselves to make a decision about another person based on them being different, or them having some quality/life situation they don’t understand, that they don’t think is “right for our country.”

I think what bothers me about these decisions (sending someone back to a country they left as a baby, where they know no one and have no means to support themselves, for example), is that they do hew to a strict legal line but seem to reflect absolutely zero mercy or love.

Our daily lives need to reflect this too (and that’s really what struck me and what I intended to write about before the paragraph above manifested itself in my thinking).

How am I, in my daily walk, being merciful? In a national time that is characterized by meanness and anger, how do I balance the fact that we have to uphold laws in order for our nation and world to not totally deteriorate yet humans at their core need love and mercy?

I’m not sure if “straying” from a faith we love comes FROM losing sight of love and justice or causes us to become distant from love and justice.

Something tells me being mindful of both love and justice will align us more closely with faith, no matter how or when we strayed.

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

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Five: Trust

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!)

Editor’s Note: I am doing something different today. I am going to remain true to the five minute free-write concept, but I am going to write my first draft by hand.

I am writing my first draft by hand because I have become increasingly disconnected from my handwriting and the process. I was especially motivated to do at least one day manually when I read an article this morning that extolled the benefits of handwriting for attorneys. 

The benefits were many: more productivity, better retention, a tiny microscopic moment of downtime for the brain to process more deeply. 

For me, it boils down to the fact that my handwriting has gotten horrible and my brain (my soul too, I guess) have become too reliant on my keyboard and my screen.

I’ll add a bit of the handwritten version here as an image, and I’ll transcribe whatever I ended up writing it in the usual “five minute” spot.

I just really feel the need to put pen (green of course!) to paper. ~ pk

Today’s prompt: TRUST

“Trust and obey.” I have had this hymn in my head since late last night, when I fell asleep thinking about this prompt.

I must have sung this song a thousand times during my Southern Baptist childhood and young adulthood. The song continues: “…there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

My biggest challenge right now is trusting myself and my choices. I know some parts of my approach to life and my skill set that I am 100% confident in … but then there are the ones that are more “iffy” or that I downright don’t think stand a chance.

Time to trust in something larger than myself.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Four: Hope

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: HOPE

It seems presumptuous to write about hope (and my struggle to muster it) in the face of the true tragedy of this week, as people are still reeling from the situation in Las Vegas. I don’t minimize their grief at all. (Side note: the off-duty police officer that was killed wrote a book about being a police officer — I have that on my list and think it should be on the lists of many readers as a show of support.)

There was a consultant who worked with our project at Healthy Kids who often said “hope is not a strategy.” I know he meant that in the business world you have to have specific plans and measurable goals.

That’s where I’m struggling personally — in the “specific plans and measurable goals” category.

With two kids in college and way too much house, and being almost 3.5 years out from leaving my full-time job, the financial puzzle is …… puzzling.

I have chosen to (had to?) depend on help from my family more than I would, um, “hope.” I keep thinking, “if I could squeeze in one more project, one more gig, or overturn the whole current situation, this could be solved.”

It is a time when it would be tempting to wallow.

Nevertheless, I have reason to hope. Now it’s time to put feet, a brain, and my heart into surrounding that hope with a plan.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Three: CREATE

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: CREATE

Apparently there is something deep (very deep) in our brains that leads us to create, even when many  of our other senses are turned off/disabled.

Our hospice music therapist, Maurisa (sp?), sat down with her guitar and her talent in February, and sang to/with my father-in-law (if you listen VERY closely, you can hear him chiming in here).

This is a man who, in his entire lifetime when he was fully able, did not to my knowledge spontaneously sing. I sat through many masses with him and I’m sure he sang “along,” but he was not the kind of guy to break out in song. Not the kind of guy to be demonstrative.Creating isn’t always a huge masterpiece hung on the wall to be admired by throngs of people.

Sometimes, it is born of one person (in this case, the music therapist) who takes the time to learn how to reach deeper, to take the risk that another person may or may not sing along.

It takes someone compassionate enough to create a space and a moment of joy for a person who others have decided doesn’t want (or isn’t able) to chime in anymore.

The act of creating can surprise you.

Music reaches something very far back in the brain, clearly.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Two: TELL

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: TELL

Checking my social media almost the minute I wake up may not be the best practice in the world, but it’s what I do.

This morning, a friend on Twitter told me that there had been a shooting in Las Vegas overnight, leaving 20 (? — story still developing) people dead including the shooter, many injuries, and a city scared to death.

Someone will now have to tell 20+ families that their loved one has passed away.

Telling a family that a loved one has passed away has been on my mind lately — after my in-law’s house was almost completely emptied out Thursday so a new tenant can move in, I was standing in an empty room surrounded by happy AND sad memories.

I remember walking in with Wayne and my sister-in-law the day we had to tell my in-laws that my brother-in-law had died, having committed suicide.

While I am tempted to write about “telling” in another from — discernment — as in being able to tell the right course of action in any given situation, the more literal version is at the forefront of my thinking today.

As the reporters tell me the details, my mind and heart are focused on the emotions and the fact that the families’ lives are going to change forever. It is a ministry, the telling of the hardest news, that demands discernment.

Writing Challenge

31 Days (155 Minutes) of Five Minute Free Writes

Since Wayne’s dad passed away, I have been actively working on paring away the time commitments that detract from my ability to contribute to the family’s bottom line.

For example, I have said several places that I plan to focus more on writing opportunities that are compensated.

The 31 Days of Free Writes October Challenge, though, won’t let me go.

I guess I may say, on November 1, “Well, that was almost two hours of my life that would have been better spent chasing down paid writing opportunities.”

However, I appreciate the Five Minute Friday writing community that led me to this challenge, and honing my writing skills five minutes at a time can only be constructive.

Many of the writers are choosing a specific theme. I tossed that idea around in my head. I could, for example, focus on caregiving as a way to test my idea of writing a book about my caregiving experiences.

I don’t want to be that constrained, though, so for one hour and 55 minutes (over 31 days), readers will just get whatever that prompt inspires that day.

Here are the prompts:

Writing Community

And I’ll come in and link up each day after writing.

10/1 Worship

10/2 Tell

10/3 Create

10/4 Hope

10/5 Trust

10/6 Story

10/7 Hold

10/8 Truth

10/9 Plan

10/10 Listen

10/11 Remember

10/12 Write

10/13 Invite

10/14 Try

10/15 Remain

10/16 Read

10/17 (Grow)

10/18 (Share)

10/19 (Brave)

10/20 (Five Minute Friday Prompt)

10/21 (Give)

10/22 (Light)

10/23 (Work)

10/24 (Revise)

10/25 (Because)

10/26 (Change)

10/27 (Five MInute Friday Prompt)

10/28 (Connect)

10/29 (Follow)

10/30 (Refine)

10/31 (Rest)

(And to those of you who subscribe to my blog, thank you first of all! I am sorry this is going to multiply the number of emails you get from me for a month. Feel free to ignore them and meet me on November 1 when I’ll return to my regularly scheduled weekly programming.)

Writing Community

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day One: WORSHIP

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: WORSHIP

I have been thinking ahead to today’s prompt for the week or so that I knew it was the day one prompt for this challenge.

Mainly, I will admit I was looking ahead to it because I was going to force myself to stop making excuses to worship.

I had an idea of going to 8 am services at Holy Comforter (my home church) this morning, but the 3 am bedtime after last nights’ fun wedding festivities put a crimp into that plan.

Instead, I went to the 5:30 service at St. John’s, another Episcopal church I attend sometimes.

It was important to me to go to a HOUSE of worship, because I have been letting attendance slip to a low place on my Sunday priority lists, below blogging, my freelance worklife (some of which involves work on Sundays), and many other things.

I know people say you can “have a worshipful experience in nature,” and I agree.

However, there is something powerful about forcing yourself to prepare. Forcing yourself to SIT. Forcing yourself to be with other believers and taking part in the community. Mother Abi’s message was about “Crockpot Christians.” I can’t summarize in one five minute blog post, but essentially, the point was that taking ordinary ingredients, and applying time along with intention can turn those ordinary ingredients into the divine.

I needed the reminder to see the divine in the ordinary, to remember to trust, to recognize in the areas of my life that seem totally unrelated to one another that there is a plan.

Worship is a way of letting those ordinary ingredients coalesce into something divine. For my approach to spirituality, worship is a way to blend all the areas of my life that occurred that week, let them simmer, and taste the beautiful outcome.

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

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