For the Birds

Reading words that you’ve painstakingly written down on paper or typed out, can be exhilarating. And those same words can flow out of a mind like a waterfall. But also? They can dry up like a creek bed in a drought.

Sometimes, I think to myself, “Writing is for the birds!”

It turns out, it only takes one.

Bird, that is.

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Inspiration is hard to find when the words aren’t there. Or the discipline to just get in the chair and bleed onto the page up and walks out the door. One book I can return to again and again for the proper motivation is Bird by Bird Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott.

Alternating between the drill-sergeant mentality to just get your butt in the chair and write at the same time every day, and the empathetic friendly advice to ‘take it bird by bird’, Lamott inspires. And she expertly provides tools and examples for exactly how to do it.

She also provides laughter along the way. And, I think we all know by now I’m all about the humor in life.

Mostly, though, anyone with writerly thoughts is reminded to start with what is real to you and to keep it that way. Embellishments aside, reality is (if we’ve learned nothing else about modern television programming) vastly entertaining. Emphasis on vastly.

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal.”

I’ve found that most feelings kept stuffed down inside are universal once they finally bubble to the surface.

And the universe is vast, so there is bound to be something to write about.

Yes indeedy.

 We are on Day 20 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. To read other posts in my series, Best Books Ever, click the button below.

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An Hour of One’s Own

Forget about A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf, I simply need an hour of my own. Truly, my brain could exhale all of the thoughts swirling around and I could sort them so much better if I had uninterrupted time.

Reading A Room of One’s Own shaped my feelings about writing. Although I knew, even in fourth grade when I attempted my first “chapter” that fiction wasn’t my jam, Ms. Woolf helped frame my need for creative space. And that, as a woman.

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As I’ve gotten older, it’s not money I need to be able to write, though. It’s time.

And not only time, but then, I need to be able to explain myself correctly. That can be difficult to do. Especially when I’m carving words out of my soul space. It takes an hour (or eleventy-hundred) of solitude to do justice to the feelings that are attempting to worm their way into words.

Woolf knew that truth finds its way into words (written or spoken) too. And she knew the power of it, as she shares here:

“Be truthful, one would say, and the result is bound to be amazingly interesting.”

In a world where so many are vying for room on the grand platform of social media, being truthful isn’t always exciting. Or newsworthy. Or sensational.

But, Woolf was able to see beyond the illusion of it all. Even back in 1929.

“Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in its place?”

Heeding the call to write, no matter the subject, is easier to do after reading A Room of One’s Own. And, while I don’t claim all of the things that Virginia Woolf espouses in this book, it was an incredible encouragement to this woman to just write.

Even if only for an hour.

Yes indeedy.

To see other posts in the Best Books Ever series I’m writing for the Write 31 Days Challenge, click the button below. 

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Pollen and Passwords

There’s a fun little meme floating around The Internets comparing a microscopic piece of pollen to an exact replica of The Death Star in Star Wars. Behold, it depicts truth!

Because, when you wake up wanting to claw your eyes out,  and then go to bed wishing your head would just hurry up and explode…pollen.

If yellow dust coats every outdoor surface that you’ve spent an entire weekend washing down… pollen.

If a spider and a horse mated… pollen.

Maybe not on the last one, but few things are more despicable to me than… pollen. And the allergies they induce.

I could move to Antarctica, but that would set my plans to move back down to Florida waaaay back.

Oh pollen, I detest thee!

And passwords, you too!

Can we just have a show of hands for those of us who have created ultra high security passwords and then never remembered them again?

Because, passwords.

Sweetman keeps telling me that something called Last Pass will save me.

But, I’d have to remember that password.

It’s a never-ending story.

Think of a great password. Check.

Remember great password in dire circumstances. Uncheck.

If only I could!

I need to live in world without pollen. Which would work out great because Sweetman would like to live in a world without bees. See how well we go together?

Maybe we could rig up a system where the only passwords used or needed were by bees. To transport pollen.

And they could only do it if they could remember their passwords.

Yes indeedy.

*Allergy meds may have been consumed prior to this writing.*

*No actual bees were harmed during this writing.*

*Neither was any pollen.*

*Unfortunately!*

*I did have to remember a password, though.*

*Wonders, will they never cease!*

Oh Write Thirty

Is it just me, or is time kind of stampeding on? From the moment I turned forty, I feel like I’m constantly sprinting after time and yelling, “Slow DOWN, for the love!”

As soon as I saw that clock tick over to 12:01 a.m., January first, I was struck by one thought: I haven’t been diligent about focusing on my dream this past year.

Opportunity is knocking.

I am not fully prepared.

One doesn’t simply crack open the door for Opportunity.

Amiright?

It’s in the still quiet moments when I hear The Dream Giver whispering into my ear and heart. He seems to have to whisper the same word time and again: “Focus, child.”

I’m hanging onto that word and letting it drive me for 2015.

Over and over again, no matter how well-intentioned I am, I find myself running down rabbit trails. Some, are necessary. The project that my Autism Spectrum Disordered child has looming over his head becomes too big for him and begs further breaking down before we all break down. Those kind of unforeseen circumstances are the unavoidable trails.

But, then, there are the ones I step down willingly. The research for a pending trip become fodder for vacation dreaming. And poof! A week’s worth of days are spent using my writing time for Internet Surfing time.

That’s not even the kind of ten I like to hang!

I would never have described myself as one who needs help with direction, in the past. My life as a Second Grade Teacher, before children, dictated a routine. It demanded organization. It fostered creativity within the bounds of structure.

This past decade-and-a-half, though, God has shifted my life. It has been more about living moment-by-moment, based on the ever-changing needs of the ones I care for.

Looking back on the year of preparation that I had in 2014, I realize that the rabbit holes were awfully dark. It’s hard to write or create in the dark.

And, I’m not a rabbit.

Zeroing in on a word that will drive me, in this new year, isn’t something I intended to do. After all, I was all about being intentional in 2013. And I wasn’t all that…intentional. Then, in 2014, I thought much about pursue. But, rabbit holes!

So, here I sit, staring at the number2-0-1-5 and thinking, “Isn’t it time I get serious and focus?”

I can almost hear God doing the exasperated parent sigh. Almost. Although, I’m sure He would never. even.

One of the most beautiful things to come out of taking on the Write 31 Days Challenge last October was seeing how I thrive on routine. I knew that about myself, at one point in time. But, I’d forgotten. Being forced to write some every single day burst open the creative gates. It also kept me honest. Saying I was going to write every day, and then having to show up on Day Whatever without a thing in hand, was a mammoth motivator to stick to it.

Back to the whole idea of focus, I know what I have to do. I work well with a schedule. If it’s looming, I’m moving. That’s where I can start. I’ll choose an Oh Write Thirty time during each day and set my trusty time and just do it! Oh those smart Nike people!

And then, hopefully, the next time I hear Opportunity knocking, I can fling wide that door and welcome It in!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to close out of approximately four vacation destination tabs.

Yes indeedy.

What I Learned in 2014

2014 was a year full of new challenges, grand adventures, goals met, lessons learned, and a whole host of moments where dark chocolate was desperately needed! I’m including my favorite posts from each month. But, I have to tell you – it was not easy to choose which posts to include. In fact, reading through each month sent me running for the tissue box more than a time or four (not to mention the stash of dark chocolate chips I realized I was going to need to keep on hand just to get through the month of June!)

So, grab your favorite cup of something warm (or cold) and join me as I reflect back on 2014.

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In January, I learned that I was one in a million. I also realized how very deeply I love my Dermatologist.

February reminded me that Sweetman is wicked smaht, and that I need to pay better attention during our conversations.

March was the month where I finally pursued a long-held goal of mine to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. And, although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped, it felt good to give it a go.

And, of course, in April, Dentists became dead to me, as we learned of sweetgirl’s boo-boos on her teeth.

May was where I reflected on the BOOM created by the very different Myers-Briggs personalities in my marriage.

June brought a painful lesson in turning the other cheek, from Sweetboy, and reminded us how Autism can have painful ripple effects for a parent – but that it doesn’t win!

July reminded me that Sweetgirl is always watching, and that Autism can sweeten the interaction between siblings – especially when a yoga ball (or two) is involved.

August is when I finally realized where my mission field is. And, OH, how I yearn to work it well!

September was the month where I learned that I can both set a goal and reach it and set a goal and fail! The women’s triathlon was successful. The goal I set afterwards was not. (There is always 2015!)

In October, I proved that I can indeed get along with Commitment, after all. I accepted the Write 31 Days challenge. Because, Grace, I know Him well.

November was full of masks, casts, and WINS! (P.S. If you need me on January 1st or, LORD WILLING, January 12th, I’ll be parked in front of the television, yelling encouraging my beloved BAMA’s football players to RUN THAT BALL!)

And, December, of 2014, taught me to shop a little earlier for the “classics”, as I reflected on the beauty of the lesson in the The Little Drummer Boy.

Such grace laces my days. I was reminded of that on more than a hundred occasions over this past year. I’m encouraged to keep moving toward new goals, maybe even toward an old one, or two, that got dropped along the way.

Hope sparkles on the horizon for 2015.

I’m praying that it does for you, too.

Yes indeedy!

What were some of your favorite lessons learned in 2014? Please, share them! I’m linking up with the lovely Emily Freeman, over at Chatting At the Sky, for her “What We Learned” link up.

 

Whispered Things

Looking at my post for today, I just wasn’t feeling it. Does that ever happen to anyone else? Knowing how crazy the day was going to be – soccer, an impromptu visit from my sweet mother and father-in-love, pumpkin carving, playdate hang-out – I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to writing until much later.

And, by then, I was feeling pretty wiped out.

Sweetman, in an effort to help me decompress after the day, put some mood lighting on and talked me into taking a deep breath and getting quiet.

Forsake The Twitter and The Facebook and The Instagram. Power down the phone and the plans and the list.

Just. Get. Quiet.

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I was reminded, again, how often time is given to me, as a grace.

In between the chewing of the candy corn, to be completely honest, Here’s what I heard in the still of the quiet:

Pray more.

Be present.

Listen intently

Hug harder.

Eyes on Me.

I’m going to get tactical about weaving these whispered things into my days.

Into my People.

Into my heart.

His grace floods my busy, once more. And, again, I’m so grateful.

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This post is day 25 in the Write 31 Days challenge.

It’s O Dark Thirty at Day Nine

Sometimes, I need to write blind.

With no sense of what needs to be said, other than the wisps of thoughts that flutter just beyond my ability to put them to words. It’s in those very moments that I most need to start tapping out words – any words – just to get them moving into some coherent thought.

And grace finds me there.

Every time.

It softens the harsh.

It brightens the dull.

It illuminates the unseen.

Grace knows what I do not.

And I keep coming back for more, for exactly that reason.

Today, as Sweetman and I await news, I am writing from that place.

It feels a bit like O’ dark thirty as I type out. It doesn’t matter. Today, I’m letting the Spirit intercede for me.

It’s okay, though, because He knows me better than I know myself.

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Writing in the dark, it turns out, is only possible by the light of grace. And I’m standing right in It, today.

Yes indeed.

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This post is day 9 in the Write 31 Days Challenge.

Two for the Road

Driving is a source of great pleasure to me.  I know I’m not alone.

Although I much prefer to be. Alone. In my car.

My thoughts can breath. Aspirations and inspirations and exultation’s stop getting all mixed up. Moments of clarity become stretches.

How many times have you had a conversation with a parent of kids under 21 who exclaimed, “And, I got to drive for twenty whole minutes, ALL BY MYSELF!”?  How many times?  Maybe it was you who uttered that very thing just this week?

One of the most precious get-away moments comes as I press play on a song that mama wants to hear. Can I get an amen?

Here are two of my favorites. I’d like to share the music, of course. But, I’d also like to share the why, because I like each one for radically different reasons.

If you’ve never heard the words “amazing” and “grace”, together, about a song, then I ask you, where have you been living for the last 235 years?

There is a version of this song that has undone me more times than I care to count. Amazing Grace, (My Chains Are Gone) was the song I first sang upon realizing the extent of my deep need for True Grace to swoop down and save me. It was later the song that ushered in a realization that addiction was part of my DNA. It is The Song that reminds me, again and again, that my chains are exactly that – mine. I’ve truly been set free.

And Grace reminds me that it doesn’t matter what I chain myself to – or how many times I attempt to chain myself to anything other than the God who made me – He. Will. Find. Me.

And set me free.

While I won’t apologize for my taste in music (it is, after all, thinking in sounds), I will say that some things just appeal to my inner need for a beat.  When I first heard “Letting Go”, by Bethel Music, I was on the verge of making some rotten decisions.  The moment the words “you’ve brought me to the end of myself”, I knew.

I knew that Grace would meet me there. At the end of myself.

And He did.

And does.

What tunes go on the road with you? Share please!

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This post is day 2 of the #write31days over at The Nester’s website.

One Thing Better Than High Hair

I attended a rockin’ Twitter party last night.  It was a happy hour filled with flying fingers, cracked jokes, and community building. I was surrounded by a couple dozen amazing women, many of whom I am able to call “Friend”.

And, it was grace.

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.”

– Frederick Buechner

Because, the party wouldn’t have been complete without me.

Without me?

Yes!

And it’s not complete without you, either.

It took me twenty some-odd years to own that.

And, my season of High Hair ushered that lesson in.

One of the most painful memories I have, is of being labeled an outcast by a group of middle school girls that I thought were my best friends.

I could say it was because I developed physically before they did and they were jealous. Maybe. It’s possible that they were acting out of a need to have control over some part of their out-of-control lives. Beauty wasn’t my friend back then; and that didn’t do me any favors, either.

I might never know why they shunned me as they did.

What I do know is that as a tender 12 year old reed, it broke me.

And, I took my broken pieces and receded into the safety of my tomboyish ways. Hunting and fishing with Ahab, skateboarding with Brother, keeping my face in the pool and away from the eyes of those who sought to bore holes into my heart. Those were my survival techniques.

And I surely did survive.

But God wanted me to see Him. And He wanted me to do more than survive.

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So, He sent Grace striding into my life, all high hair and hairspray, frosted lips and Northern accent. That unmerited favor modeled a grace for my fragility. That one longed-for friendship did so very much to repair some of the damage done to my heart.

God tenderly repaired this broken reed and set it straight.

I learned a beautiful lesson that year: sometimes Grace comes through people. And He reminds you that what happened then doesn’t matter near as much as what you allow to happen now. It pours over you and into you and shows you that you are not alone, that you are loved, and that the pain of the past does not have to define your future.

Indeed! While Beauty and I never did make amends, Grace and I?

We’ve become BFF’s.

Has grace ever found you in friendship? Would you share here?

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This is post #1 in my 31 Days of Grace series. The Nester is hosting her annual 31 Days of Writing. If you’d like to check out one of the thousands of unique contributions, click here. You can find my introduction post here.

 

 

 

31 Days of Grace

Commitment and I have a rocky relationship. Once in a while, we’ll actually come to terms and hang out peaceably. But, inevitably, we turn on each other.

I’ll claim that staying committed is too hard to do at this season of life.  And Commitment is over there all, “but you make time for what’s important to you, don’t you?”

There’s nothing worse than a Commitment who’s a know-it-all.

Writing consistently is something I struggle with. Maybe you do too?  It’s partly, I’m sure, because I don’t like knowing that I must do anything (thank you, rebellious sin-nature). It’s mostly because I’m scared to commit to something that I don’t know if I’ll be able to see through. With a bit of the sense that I’m not good enough sprinkled on top.

I think, and I’ll only speak for myself here, that if God has taught me anything over this last 18 years with Him, it’s that He’s bigger. Way bigger! And, for sure, 31 days bigger!

All of that is such an anti-climactic way to say that this year, I’m going to throw caution to the wind (and fear and rebellion and anything else that whispers “NO!”). I’m going to be writing for 31 days.

About grace.

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Because people, if I know anything about anything, it’s got to be about the grace that’s doled out in heaping amounts, around these parts.

It’s almost laughable that I didn’t think I had anything I could write consistently about. The grace galore around here…

Yeah, definitely that.

Flitting in to light upon my angry heart or gently pressing in on that bruised place, bringing lightness of being to my darkness of feeling or leaving mirth in its wake – how it’s delivered, doesn’t matter. I only know that I gobble it up. Every time.

Like so much necessary air.

Because without grace, I am lost.

Maybe a few of you feel that way too? My heart’s desire is that you will read something here during the next thirty-one days that speaks grace into your own heart. Right where it aches. Or longs to be reminded that Hope is still hanging around (probably with Commitment!).

And, of course, I hope that you’ll be able to laugh, too.

Because, laughter.

And, grace.

Oh, yes indeedy!

Ready?

Links to the series (Updated daily)

One Thing Better Than High Hair

Two for the Road

Three Little Words

Flying in a V Fourmation

Five Ten

Six for Grace

Seven Times Seventy-seven

Eight Hugs a Day

It’s O Dark Thirty at Day Nine

Ten Second Grace Period

Day 11 – Take Two

A Dozen Ways to Say It

Thirteen Times, and Then Some

I’d Edit Chapter Fourteen

Fifteen Years Strong

Grace Comes as a Camel on Day 16

When I Was Seventeen

An Epic Battle on the Eighteenth Day

Interrupted by Grace on Day Nineteen

It Only Took About Twenty Years

Beyond the Twenty-First Time

Twenty-two Times a Day

Smitten With Grace

Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Whispered Things

Pain Has a Purpose

A Laugh a Minute

Grace Blazes a Trail

Filling the Void Within

Hooked on a Feeling

Phoning It In

Come on back tomorrow and we’ll get this Grace party started. And, if you are participating in The Nester’s 31 Days, please let me know below, in the comments.  I’d love to surf around and see what some of y’all are up to for the next 31 days, too! Watch for this button and you’ll know it’s from yours truly.

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