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

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

Five Takeaways from a Daily Writing Challenge

The “31 days of 5-minute free writes” October challenge has come and gone. Among other things, I never really got consistent about “31” or “Thirty-one,” “5-minute, “five-minute,” or “five minute,” but at least I was consistent about my writing commitment.

This is what occurs to me after 155 accumulated minutes of writing:

I like pondering a concept in advance of writing about it.

I got involved in the October challenge due to my affiliation with the Five Minute Friday community. Typically, there is not much time between learning the FMF prompt and writing to it. With this challenge, I had all 31 prompts from Day One.

Writing Challenge Survival

Although I like spontaneously responding to a prompt, it also shaped my month to be reflecting on concepts like truth, brave, and connect in advance.

I like changing things up.

It didn’t take long after the challenge began for me to start thinking of novel approaches. There was the day I handwrote my response, for example. Then the day I spent the five minutes verbally presenting my contribution via Facebook live (and then transcribing it — I speak much more rapidly than I type — that day’s entry was roughly double the length of any other).

I also found I needed (wanted?) to have a fresh, novel image for each day. Although I had created an image that I planned to be the “hallmark” image of the series, I hardly  used it. For one thing, I wanted something different to populate every day when I posted the piece of the day to social media.

Writing Challenge Survival

I may have gotten dependent on images.

This is truly a concern of mine — one that the challenge didn’t dispel.

I can think of very few posts I have written in the past several years that I didn’t somehow anchor with an image. Now, there’s nothing wrong with images, but I believe one of the goals of a writer should be to paint a picture with words.

Have I become more of a “look at this pink flower — isn’t it pretty?” writer than an “I could almost see the cotton candy fibers spinning into place as I pondered the pink hue of that blossom — even though we were nowhere near a fairground” kind of author?

Obviously the only way to improve my ability to describe with words instead of pictures is to practice. And learn. And have people critique my writing. But writing daily for five minutes at a time made me hyperaware as I scrambled over to Pablo many of the days to whip up a quick image, even if it only distantly related to my topic.

This image for my “follow” prompt, for example, is pretty but what does that leaf have to do with a conversation I had with a former Executive Director of an agency I volunteered at/worked for?

Writing Challenge Survival

People who comment are the best!

Commenting seems to be a dying practice. I read so many great blogs that have very few responses, if any at all. It does take time to comment, but as a writer, I know I appreciate each and every one. Tara of Praying on the Prairie commented on most, if not all, of my posts. It was like a little tiny pat on the back each time I read one of  her affirming notes. Thanks, Tara.

I love writing.

When I took on the challenge, I shared in the introductory post about how I have a goal of cutting down on writing for others for free and trying to secure more paid writing assignments. I couldn’t resist this challenge, though!

I am at a time in my life that I love waking up to start my morning part-time job (thanks, SmartBrief), but waking up to write for five minutes (BEFORE CAFFEINE EVEN) made waking up even better.

Before doing the challenge, I would possibly have argued with you if you had suggested I could put together coherent thought at 5:45 am without the aid of caffeine. But I’m here to tell you I apparently can!

(What I can’t/won’t do, though, is the next frontier: NaNoWriMo — a challenge to write a book in the month of November. The pending house listing, the lack of a clear idea of what I want to write, and a smidgen of fear topped off with a dash of insecurity are all barriers. It won’t happen this November, but that book will happen.)

I found this quote/image when looking for a quote with which to close, and although it is not as overt about writing as some other quotes I saw, this gets most directly at the reason I write and the reason I loved this challenge.

The act of writing (and sharing the writing) keeps me thinking. I suppose I would have “thought” whether I wrote or not, but writing makes me nudge the thinking into the world.

And when the thinking is out in the world, fading away is much less likely.

Writing Challenge Survival

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

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 Discover

10/21 Give

10/22 Light

10/23 Work

10/24 Revise

10/25 Because

10/26 Change

10/27 Overcome

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

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.

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

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: GUIDE

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: GUIDE .

Five Minute Friday

Have you ever used Pablo, Buffer’s image system? It has little grid lines, one horizontal and one vertical, that help you make sure your image is perfectly centered.

I use PicMonkey too, and begged them several times to have guide lines too. They eventually did (but probably not because of me…). The funny thing is although the guide lines/grid marks were helpful, they also constrained my ability to move my image around (but I was still glad to have them!).

I almost didn’t write tonight. I have been battling a “bug” the last 48 hours and feel more low-energy than I have felt in a long time. I suspect it’s a combo of something physical, my son leaving home (hello empty nest), and all the financial questions we face with two kids in college and the fact that I just left one of my part-time jobs (here’s hoping my strategy there was on point!).

I think maybe I should be letting my body be my guide. It’s telling me something (rest? slow down? eat better?). It was HARD to cancel my obligation last night (to do a preview of a play for Broadway World, something I love doing). I really really really hate to let people down.

And I guess *maybe* what my body has been trying to tell me is that I have been letting myself down.

Time to cling to some effective  guidance and get centered again.

What will that look like? I know nutrition is a big part of it. Also, exercise. I have let my cardiac issues back me into a corner on that and it’s time to take control again, to prevail over the fear that comes with almost any workout lately.

I also hope my kids feel the effects of the guide I tried to be over the years of their childhoods. Now that they are out of the house, there’s no more micromanaging, no more constant face-to-face. I have to hope the guidance I gave took.

Five Minute Friday

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

Five Minute Friday: SPEAK

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: SPEAK .

Five Minute Friday

When I decided to transition out of the part-time independent contractor job I have held for almost three years, I found it impossible to speak to my boss about it. She had sort of opened the door a few weeks prior as we had been talking about relief arrangements during my father-in-law’s illness, and she said, unprompted by me, “and also maybe for your permanent transition too.”

I’m not sure if she just sensed it or what

But after he passed away, it became apparent rapidly that I needed to find work where I can earn more and I’ve learned enough about myself these past three years to know I need more structure.

The thing is, I loved (still do) this place. As I said in my “job hunt” blog, it was more than a job.

Not every job has a Slack channel/Basecamp page strictly for Thanksgivings and Prayer Requests. Not that they all should, or have to, but it was  fit at this place and it made a difference.

I “requested transition” via an email.

Then several other email exchanges happened.

Then things got confusing.

Probably because we never did speak!

(We eventually did, and it was a closure type conversation, one that helped me come to some emotional conclusion and peace.) I keep thinking I should have found it in me to speak rather than mail from the beginning.

I prefer writing to speaking. She (in my opinion) prefers speaking to writing. Maybe that is the crux of the problem!

Speaking conveys things (emotion, body language) that writing can’t AND forces us to figure out our message right in the moment without constant revisions. SORT of like this Five Minute Friday exercise!

Five Minute Friday

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

Five Minute Friday: Inspire

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: INSPIRE.

Five Minute Friday

My thoughts on inspiration tonight may be a bit on the “dark” side as opposed to the “shout it from the rooftops, I am so inspired by [identify inspirational person/thing/book/place/moment].”

It’s difficult to write about the specifics without revealing some fairly private musings and identifying the person involved.

There are inspirations in our family. People have overcome physical challenges. People have overcome the loss of siblings who, while not at all forgotten, do inspire us (or I guess I can only speak for me) to be better, to try not to leave important messages unsaid, to know tomorrow is never guaranteed.

There is one thread of inspiration running through our family’s story, and I now see that the way we have framed that may actually put one of the people at the center of the story in the most awkward of positions.

I don’t think that person wants to be the fulcrum on which our balance of inspirational material centers. I don’t know that an apology matters. I think they would understand why we framed things the way we did, why I personally blogged about it the way I did.

But I am left with the reminder that glorifying others, and telling them how inspirational they are, does not always make them feel good. Sometimes it creates more pressure than we intend.

I will think, harder, the next time I single someone out as an example, and try to be more sensitive to the way they process what I think is a positive. They may not want or need the attention. It may have the opposite effect of what I intend.

I do love a good inspirational story though!

Five Minute Friday

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