Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: Useful Distraction?

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.
            My focus has been so far off lately. That is why I can’t seem to get anything done. Lack of time is not the problem. It’s complete lack of motivation, discipline, and focus. My mind is constantly going in ten different directions and I never know which lead to follow. Sometimes it’s with writing: should I write a blog post? Should I be working on a short story? A novel? A children’s book? I have all of that floating in my head that needs to get out on the page before it all dies. But, this goes far beyond writing decisions. Getting myself to sit down and write is a chore in and of itself. Ever a distracted procrastinator, I find everything else to do and I start random crafts or projects. I actually did finish a couple long term projects this last month, which was nice. I suppose I need to find motivation in those moments of accomplishment, even if it’s not with writing. If I could get more of the organizational projects out of the way, I may be able to focus more on my writing (or so I tell myself). One of my finished projects involved creating a significant amount of storage space in my room, which allows me to FINALLY clear off the random books, crafts and sewing supplies on my desk. That is my next project, to sort and move that stuff so my computer can have its old home back. My current set up in the living room is too full of distractions like the TV, large window, and cats. I have read that it’s helpful to find a place to get away from distractions, so I am working on creating that space.
My current "writing" spot
In the midst of the storage wars, I did manage little bits of writing here and there. One day, when I intentionally sat down for ten minutes to write, I wrote 350 words. Now that may not sound like a lot, but I did the math :) If I only wrote 300 words per day, every day, I would have 109,500 words by the end of the year! I know more experienced writers probably manage a lot more than that, and then there’s the editing and revising stages and beyond, but that still looks like a good number to start with for a beginning novelist like me, especially in only ten minutes a day. Feeling motivated yet?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Flashback Friday: Flying Against the Wind

             **It's the last Friday of the month, so it's time for Flashback Friday! Participants repost an old post that needed more attention, that you're very proud of, that you think is still relevant, etc. It was hosted by Michael G D'Agostino, but he has opted out. You can still find a list of previous and current participants on his blog.
            You know, while I did decide not to participate in the A to Z Challenge this year, I did not necessarily intend on taking nearly the entire month away from blogging, but that's what happened this month. This post from October 30, 2011 seemed appropriate for my state of mind lately. It often seems that time is against me, but April has not been entirely unproductive. I got some reading done, from both informational and fictional books, and I finally conquered a huge organizational project that has been on my to do list for over a year. Anyway, that's enough current news, now it's time to flashback.**

Flying Against the Wind

           One windy day, as I was sitting in my car on my lunch break, I saw a dragonfly. This particular dragonfly was determined to fly against the wind. It flapped its little wings as fast as it could. I watched as it flew forward a few feet, only to be pushed back by a gust of wind, over and over again. It kept going, even when its efforts only kept it in one place for a few seconds. I don't know if that dragonfly ever reached its destination, but I do know that it wasn't about to let a little wind change its course.

            Sometimes life is like that. You try as hard as you can, but something is always putting up a resistance. Sometimes you can't seem to get past a certain point, like you're suspended in mid-air, and, sometimes, you get pushed back to where you started. When this happens, you probably feel like giving in and just letting the current take you away. Instead, you should learn a lesson from the dragonfly: Don't give up. When the struggles and pressures of life try to push you backwards, push back. Life wasn't meant to be easy, and pushing against the wind helps us to grow stronger. Remember that if you know Jesus, you are not alone in your flight. He is there to help you along and lead you back to the right path if the wind gets you off course. God is there when you feel over taken: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) Aren't the wings of an eagle so much stronger then those of a dragonfly? Also, remember that God has the power to stop the wind: "And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39) So, just keep flying, and remember the dragonfly when the wind blows against you.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG: Dutifully Determined

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.
            I was in deep denial and disappointment about not digging in to the demanding A to Z Challenge this year. That doesn’t deduce that I can’t delight in some alphabetic drollery. So, with the dictionary as my director I shall divulge you with this month’s disquiet. My daily writing is still delayed. I’ve been too distracted and distressed by work and other duties and disciplines. Like a drawn-out dance, I dash from being deliberate in the details to diversion or disarray. My determination is often detoured and it can become downright depressing. I must decide to keep driving forward. Don’t dwell on the difficulties; instead, discover and develop different ways to reach that writing destination.


This post has been brought to you by the letter D.

And now back to your regularly scheduled A to Z programming...

Friday, March 31, 2017

Flashback Friday: Cats

            **I forgot to pre-schedule my Flashback Friday post! But, it's alright because it is still Friday where I am. Since it is a bit late, I thought I would include something new at the end as a bonus. Flashback Friday occurs the last Friday of the month. Participants repost an old post that needed more attention, that you're very proud of, that you think is still relevant, etc. It was hosted by Michael G D'Agostino, but he has opted out. You can still find a list of previous and current participants on his blog.**

Just a Quick Word (With Cats!) - Previously published July 24, 2015
            Just for fun, I thought I would introduce everyone to my cats.  They have made some appearances in post pictures before, and I thought they deserved a proper introduction!

Here they are:
They're pretty lazy
This is Kitty:

We wanted to come up with a great name for her when she was a kitten, so we waited for her personality to develop.  But the next thing you know, we just couldn't come up with anything more fitting than Kitty or just The Cat since she was our only indoor cat for a while.
This is Sawyer:
He's my lap baby and a great comforter after a long day at work.  He also likes to sleep in a lot of strange positions, so he ends up in more pictures than the other two.
This is Sophie:

She is the bratty, "little sister" of this clowder.  She sometimes ninja-strikes all, whether cat, dog, or human, who cross her path.

And now (3/31/17), here is a little bonus picture. Can you spot the new cat?:
This is Arwen. While Kitty, Sawyer, and Sophie rule the indoors, Arwen is an outside cat who chose my family. She is a bit camera shy and she doesn't always come around, but I managed to capture her in a rare moment of getting cozy in the little house we got for her.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Not This Time

            I must sadly say that I will not be participating in the A to Z Challenge this year.  :(
I put a lot of thought into this decision and I even started working on some posts, but I realized that I do not have the time for it this year. Any of my regular followers would know that I have been struggling with keeping things balanced the last few months, and since I’m still trying to manage my schedule, I know that I will not have the energy to keep up with daily blog visits and comments during the challenge.

Speaking of time and balance, my presence has not been felt in the blogging force very often lately and for this I apologize. There have been some things that have come up in the foreground of my life, both good and bad, that have taken precedence over blogging. Most of February and on into March, sicknesses have plagued my local area. The pharmacy has been bustling with endless cold and flu patients, schools canceled classes in February due to the flu, my church has had some low attendance days, and both of my parents have suffered from some congestion issues. I blame the weather. It has constantly gone up and down in temperature. On more than one occasion, yesterday's low was tomorrow's high. This instability has plagued my sinuses and I'm sure it has caused these adverse effects in others as well. Come to think of it, maybe the weather is part of the reason for my fatigue and exhaustion these past couple months. Although, I think the strain of extra patients at work has been the primary reason. I have been drained of mental reasoning and motivational energy most days. In fact, I fell asleep at 10:30 a high number of nights for this night owl, and when you get home from work around 7:30 some days, that doesn't leave much room for anything else besides dinner, de-stressing, and getting ready for bed. 
But it hasn't been all illness, fatigue, and canceled challenge plans. I am in the process of finally finishing up some courses and tutorials over a new writing-related project I decided to try out months ago. I still have some kinks to work out, but once I get it going I will be happy to share it with you. For now, it shall remain a secret! I also hope to work on getting more blog posts written in advance since I’ll have more time than I initially expected next month. Sometime this week, I will make some visits to see what themes my blogging friends are doing, and I still plan to follow some during the challenge.
Are you participating in A to Z this year? If so, I might go visit your theme reveal and I hope you have fun!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG: One Step at a Time

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month. Congratulations to the IWSG for making it on the 100 Best Websites for Writers list!
            I thought about being discouraged and talking about my typical lack of time and motivation, and how it is already March and what I have I done with my writing so far this year? But, you know, things are not always as bad as they seem. Change will come, but sometimes it only comes in small baby steps. Have I met my goal of writing every day? Not yet, but I do find myself making notes of ideas more often and I have written quite a bit in my journals. Journaling may not always feel like writing because it is not usually for others to see, but I think there is power in unleashing those inner thoughts and it taps into your source of creativity. Beyond journaling, I have made some decisions and plans for my writing this last month. The most immediate is that I decided I will attend the monthly writer’s group meeting at my local library tomorrow. From the way the librarian described the group, it sounds like a critique group, and I thought I would just sit in this time to see how it goes. I’m a little bit nervous, but I think it is a good step forward for my future writing pursuits. I will reveal my other plans and steps as I reach them. One step at a time.
March’s question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out? I did not think I had much of an answer to this, because most of my fictional writing is from the last couple years, besides a few from high school and college. Of course, there is my ongoing “quiet book” that I started collecting notes for about 10 years ago, but it has not entered the drafting phase yet. Today, I was looking through my high school (and beyond) diary, and I was actually thinking about how some of those early entries would make a pretty comical preteen book. I’m thinking something along the lines of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but I’ll have to wait to see if that will work out or not. I have a long list of other projects to work on ahead of it. One step at a time. :)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Flashback Friday: Witnessing a Miracle

            **It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for Flashback Friday. Participants repost an old post that needed more attention, that you're very proud of, that you think is still relevant, etc. It was hosted by Michael G D'Agostino, but he has opted out. You can still find a list of previous and current participants on his blog. It has now been two years since the accident I mentioned in this post and Victoria's progress continues to astound me.**
Witnessing a Miracle (previously posted February 25, 2016)

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

Victoria, Sam, Aleigh and Lucas with their parents and grandparents
            This past Sunday, February 21, 2016 marked one year since Victoria Turner, two of her siblings, and her maternal grandparents were in a terrible car accident. Today Victoria, or Tori, as she’s often called, is a living, breathing miracle. I have shared her story before, but I haven’t given an update for a while. So, I thought I would share my own personal reflections of those months last year.
On February 14, 2015, I had the privilege of babysitting my friend’s three precious children while she was with her husband at our church’s sweetheart banquet. I absolutely adore her kids and consider them like family. One week later, late in the evening, those three children were in a terrible car accident with their maternal grandparents. The middle daughter, Aleigh, and grandparents were fine (which was a miracle in and of itself), but the oldest son, Samuel, and youngest daughter, Victoria, were critically injured. Samuel had a fractured ankle and pelvis and Victoria had multiple skull fractures and brain injuries; they didn’t think she was going to make it. When I heard the news the following morning at church I was struck with such a sense of hopelessness and concern. I had just held Tori and read to her the previous week, what was I to do? There wasn’t anything I could do except pray. So that is what I and my church did.     
Samuel was released within a couple weeks, but Victoria took a turn for the worst. She got pneumonia due to her weakened immune system, and had to be put on life support. So, in the weeks following we continued to pray for this precious two-year-old. There were so many ups and downs during those critical weeks when many people, including myself, checked the Facebook page repeatedly throughout the day hoping for good news. Eventually, the miracle we were praying for came and Victoria survived! After months of therapy, a transfer to a hospital closer to home, and slowly being weaned off the oxygen support, Tori was finally able to return home in June. One of many amazing things about all of this is that during her time on life support, the doctors were not able to treat her skull fractures, but when they finally took an x-ray they found that the fractures had healed on their own and no additional surgery was necessary.
This picture was taken the day I went with Victoria, her mom and little brother to her check-up
She is still undergoing speech therapy, but she communicates her needs fairly well with her limited vocabulary. I have had some opportunities to observe her at play, I even got to let her sit in my lap and read to her again, and I think she seems just as bright and eager to learn as ever. I was watching her run and play with another three-year-old at church the other day and every time she laughed or smiled I was reminded of what a miracle and a testimony her young life has already been to so many people.
My church was strengthened in prayer during that time. We came together as one body and the power of prayer was shown in a way that most of us will never forget. And we were not alone. The church has somewhere between 200 and 300 members, but the Pray for Tori and Sam Facebook page has over 9000 likes. It amazes me that so many people beyond our church were willing to pray and show support for Victoria and her family, and all of those lives were impacted by this tragedy. Prayer is powerful, but things may not always turn out the way we want them to. Even if things had gone the other way with Tori, her parents said they would still believe that God works out the good in all things. Of course, it is better to always be in prayer, whether we are in the midst of disaster or delight, but as incomplete works in progress, we probably lapse in our prayer time once in a while, especially if things are going smoothly.  Just remember that God is always just a prayer away and He wants to hear all of your needs, your desires, your worries, your fears, your praise, and your worship.

You can find more information about Victoria's journey on the Pray for Tori and Sam Facebook page, and the pictures I shared in this post are from that page.
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