Five Minute Friday: DIFFERENT

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: DIFFERENT

Five Minute Friday

I turned Spotify on to “Acoustic Covers” so that I would have music in the background as I composed this five-minute piece.

Rather than music only, I got voices. This was different than I expected. I suppose it’s acoustic as in “no electronics,” which is different than “no voices.”

“Different than what I expected” seems to be the status quo in my life lately.

(And in the case of the music I’m listening to, I end up at a different place or with a different product than I intended mainly because I didn’t pay attention in the first place.)

I’m not in one of those “ah differences are wonderful and sometimes lead us to something we like even better” moods. Not at all.

As we face the sale (hopefully — please realty gods) of this house, and continue to adjust to the empty nest, I’m struggling to reframe “different” as an “adventure” because right now it feels more like a precipice.

Our whole world seems stuck in the “yuck” of difference. We cling to what we know, feeling safe, rather than exploring (respectfully) what we don’t know (or agree with) because it just feels too scary.

Perhaps if I take a deep breath (and keep writing to sort it all out), the “different” of 2018 will transform into something positive.


Five Minute Friday

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

Five Minute Friday: ONLY

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: ONLY

Five Minute Friday

I have been feeling many “if only’s” lately.

(Caveat: I know this is raw writing but that’s the way I roll.)

If only I had done something more lucrative right out of school and built a bigger financial base (even if I didn’t love it).

If only I had made different choices about spending, debt, finances.

If only we hadn’t committed to such a huge  house that we now have to sell, as I sweat out being able to give my kids and family a modicum of a holiday.

**

I have been listening to “Well” — a book by Sarah Thebarge — about her several-month stint doing volunteer work as a physician’s assistant in Togo.

One day, after two of her patients had died of conditions that would most likely  not have been fatal in the US, she found herself at the end ….. she wrote:

“I was out of determination, out of energy, out of motivation … out of hope.” (Note of irony: she was volunteering at a place called the “Hospital of Hope.”

She went on to say:

“I was completely depleted, completely out of reasons to keep going.”

Although I know objectively HOW MUCH I have, I also know I face the consequences of the choices I made over the last decades.

They keep me from traveling as much as I would like to, from giving generously to the causes I love (one of the reasons I try to make up for it in time and energy), from giving the people I love the things I want to give them.

I have composed letters in my head to my kids “don’t let the lack of ‘stuff’ this year make you think you aren’t loved.” I probably won’t send them.

I only wish I could make peace with the choices I made years ago for which I am paying now.

Additional Note: Sarah is now providing medical training in Sudan. Please read more about her work here, pray for her, and consider donating to the cause.

 


Five Minute Friday

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

Five Minute Friday: NEAR

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: NEAR

Five Minute Friday

“Keep at least three feet away from her.”

The above sentence is one of roughly 15 bullet points on a “checklist for communicating” a trainer put together based on an assessment of me when I worked at Healthy Kids in 2011.

Y’all, it is the FIRST bullet point.

As if I don’t want anyone near me.

I remember the first time I read it, having a “NAH – NOT ME!” moment….

….and then I remember the letter I wrote a friend once telling her I was uncomfortable that she was SO touchy-feely (boy do I feel guilty about that all these years later — we were different about that kind of thing but it was just her way — and WHY did I presume to address it via a letter? We did resolve things (mostly) shortly after that (with me eating the extremely requisite humble pie).

But proximity is a weird thing. The report in general was QUITE accurate. Almost eerily accurate. I have to confess the “proximity thing”  probably does hold some truth.

Being a parent changed much of that. I’m pretty sure there’s a period when you have multiple young children in your life that there is ALWAYS someone touching you, either due to breastfeeding, or because little kids often just crave the closeness of a parent, or because they (ahem) refuse to walk and want to be carried instead.

I often reminisce about the days a kid would crawl in bed with us (they are so long ago).

To resurrect a word from last week, the familiarity of being in bed together as a family unit, sharing space and hearts, was precious time and space …. and nearness.

Even if some test confirms I want people to stay three feet away (three feet?)….

…the last thing I want is for anyone to think they can’t be near my heart.

Five Minute Friday

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

Five Minute Friday: FAMILIAR

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: FAMILIAR

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Turkey Trot was all too familiar.

It took me one hour, twenty-eight minutes, and twenty-two seconds to walk the 3.1 miles/5 kilometers. 1:28:22. In previous years, I ran the 10K in less time than that.

It brought back my running life in 2009 when I started blogging (planning to always call the blog “The Last Banana Club” (how times change LOL!)). When I so frequently finished at the back of the pack and/or last.

Before I started improving, and thinking my goal of breaking 30:00 for a 5K was possible.

Before the implantable loop recorder, the EP study and subsequent decision not to do an ablation.

The familiar part(s) today?

The law enforcement saying to each other “we’ve got to be getting near the end.”

The water stations being dismantled.

The music ending.

The photographer not paying attention to me, walking along, as the 10K finishers streamed past me.

As I saw people who had finished their races returning to their cars/homes, I saw the medals around their necks. As many back-of-the-packers do, I wondered if there would be any left when I got to the finish line.

Because I was among the very last finishers of the 5K, the medal volunteers weren’t paying attention (because the 10K finishers were completing their races through an adjacent chute).

I approached one and asked “do I get a medal?”

She said, “you get a medal whether you ran an inch or 15 miles.”

And that is the spirit of the running community with which I am most familiar.

***Thoughts beyond five minutes. Although my five-minute clock has ended, I want to make sure to note how much I love the running community. I didn’t anticipate writing something quite so self-centered and relatively negative, especially on Thanksgiving after a day filled with family, plenty, friends, and safety, but I believe strongly in honest writing, and the prompt “familiar” sent me down a particular path that I found it important and a little cathartic to pursue. ~ pk***

Five Minute Friday

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

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.