Commitments

LESS THAN THIRTY-SIX DAYS TILL TAXES are due. In addition to all that gathering of receipts (ugh … I really, really hate doing taxes), I still have an edit or three on my fourth book to complete, an edit or two on the rewrite of book one (I’ve passed the self-imposed deadlines multiple times for both), book five is begging to be worked on. Ideas keep popping into my head—I try to get them scribbled down before they vanish, but have yet to be successful at that … and I have yet to create any art (sniff …) Okay, that was one very long run-on sentence. Sorry. But, you get the drift, right?

I’m also in a holding pattern on finding out what’s going to happen with my left knee. I really did do it in when I fell (twice) in January. Sigh. I see my orthopedist at the end of March … results of an MRI arrived at my primary care doc’s office last week, and from what I read (I always get copies of the reports … handy to have a medical assistant background), it doesn’t look as bad as it initially felt. My regular doc definitely wants me to see the orthopedist. I’m hoping it’s just for PT … no surgery. At least, that’s what I read into the report, plus how I’m feeling. Hoping and praying …

Why is it, when all I want to do (now that I’ve got better vision—cataract surgery was a complete success—yay!) is to write with abandon, there always seems to be Things keeping me from it?? Doctor appointments that cut into the day, meetings, tax preparation (ugh) and my weekly commitment to help out (or even to actually creating some art, which hasn’t happened either) at Open Ground Studios … all of these vie for my attention and precious time. I write best when I have large chunks of time to let my mind go in whatever direction it wishes—remember, the characters seem to be in control. Those large “chunks” seem to be hard to find these days. The same applies to editing. And, I’m finding I need the quiet of my home for that … so I can concentrate.

I either need to “un-commit” myself a whole bunch or figure out how to work in smaller time slots. I have cut back on my commitments, but … oooh, this sounds way too familiar—it’s a repeating problem I seem to have. Balancing things that need to be done with things I’d like to do … and the things others would like me to do. None of it is going to be easy to work out—never is, is it?

I’ve found myself taking art classes that I cannot complete because of stupid injuries, doctor appointments and other time constraints that happen after I’ve made the commitment to take the classes or … well, you’ve got the picture. It is frustrating to not be able to engage in any artistic outlet, whether it is writing or creating art (hopefully that will change this weekend with a one-day monotype workshop). Sure, I am able to compose a blog weekly (most weeks), but those usually are random happenings. No serious “construction” involved—just ramblings for the most part. Fun to write (in most cases) and for you to read, but even those blogs takes me away from creating serious stuff.

So … I need to re-group, figure some things out and take a serious look at my calendar. And add (cringe) a serious exercise regimen to my schedule to help my knee heal. And start planning some book signings for this spring and summer—right?

Sniggle … even as I write this, I find that I’ve signed myself up for two art classes (hmm … how’d that happen? Insert monster grin)—one on Saturday (just a one-day workshop) and the other begins on 21March—for four or five weeks, I think. It’s hard to resist the great workshops and seminars that OGS offers! I’ve decided those two will be fine, as I’m progressing nicely on my sorting of tax receipts and I’ve actually managed to do a little editing. I’ve even made copies of my two WIPs that need editing—I do so much better with hard-copies … old-school girl, yup. But … I’ve also added another thing to my agenda (I’m not ready to divulge it as yet—I’ll probably do a whole blog about it). And it is eating into my time also, but so far I’m keeping it manageable—for the time being.

So … this isn’t the short blog I thought it would be (oopsie …), but I’m ending the week with a smile on my face, so hopefully you won’t mind. May you have a wonderfully blessed weekend and week to come.

Saying No …

IT SEEMED LIKE A LOVELY, SLOW MONTH — really it did. And that’s just how I wanted it, especially with two edits hanging over my head. But … I have a tendency of “filling” my time — without thinking. The only thing I had going this month was my cataract surgery in the middle of the month and my weekly NaNoWriMo group. Now, all of a sudden, my calendar is being populated with art classes at Open Ground Studios … and dinners with friends and families. Oh, yes. And there’s the short story for an anthology I said yes to (but now that I know more details, I may back out). Whaaat was I thinking?

I’m not even sure it has anything to do with saying no … because — at least for the art classes — nobody asked if I wanted to do them … the flyer was just sitting there and I was craving some dedicated creative time. Time specifically set aside for practicing and playing with what I love. I signed up for two classes (photopolymer and watercolour), but now I’m not sure about the timing for the watercolour class — evening classes and I don’t get along that well. I hadn’t realised the times when I signed up for the that class. The other is a daytime class so I’ll have no problem with it. And, I’ll be there anyway. Um, well, all except the first day. That’s the day of my cataract surgery (oopsie) … so, I’ve got a note into the instructor, letting him know — just in case that makes the class a no-go.

Well, I guess it does have to do with saying no after all. Just because there isn’t a physical “other body” to say no to doesn’t mean I can shirk the saying no. Sometimes I’m the one I must say no to. That’s hard. I thought I was getting really good at saying no — but apparently only to others (stifles a guffaw …) — so, I still have some work to do on that.

I was able to say no to an extended family get-together, but needed to say yes to another one … since I was sick for Christmas, I missed two dinner/get-togethers. My daughter (and son-in-law) and I decided to move our annual get-together to a time when I was well. We tried last weekend, but I wasn’t quite up to it. So, this Saturday it is! I’m looking forward to spending time with them … and planning our next dinner (also delayed due to me) to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. She gets to choose the when and where, then we’ll all go and have a lovely time. I love spending time with these two (one of my harder duos to say no to …) — any time!

Trying to keep my calendar underpopulated is going to be a challenge. I can foresee some complications that are likely to arise, but all in all, I think these first three months will stay fairly quiet … and that’s a good thing (and very much needed). Making time, finding time … and preserving those times for whatever is needed — for me, it’s time to be still, refresh and get some things done that have been ignored for a very long time. Saying no can be so freeing (Cheshire grin here …)

Before I sign off, I’d like to wish each of you a Happy New Year. May this year bless you with many serendipitous happenings.

 

Timing…

I HATE IT WHEN I STOP WRITING mid-sentence/mid-thought…I guess, at the time, I thought I’d easily be able to pick up where I left off. I began a blog entry a month ago, laid it aside in the ‘draft’ pile and figured I’d use it at an appropriate time, but without changing tenses, timing…well, it was very time sensitive. And now, one month later, after scanning through my previous blogs, I realized I actually did finish it and posted it. It seems WordPress has been having issues saving thing…and letting go of old (published) drafts, too. I was relieved that I hadn’t made a huge mistake. But, it made me think—I had done nothing more on this entry (or so I thought), I’ve done very little on my edit for book three—my editor has probably forgotten all about me since I haven’t communicated with him, I haven’t been communicating with my publisher and I have done nothing on book four (other than think about it), which is my NaNoWriMo project this year.

I’ve been hibernating…It’s not that I’m “burnt out” from all of this, it’s just that I’m dealing with some health issues—with my dog and my own health. I think I’ve mentioned some of it in a previous blogs. I’m not looking for sympathy (just statin’ the facts, ma’am….) So, now that Kaeli is better (finally!) I’m trying to recuperate from my own issues. Trying to get some energy back so I can plow ahead with all that needs doing.

The lack of editing on The Scymarian has been a huge negative. Not only does that mean the completion and publishing of book three has been pushed back to the beginning the new year, which has me feeling like I’ve disappointed my readers—big time (I am so sorry), but I seem to be in a time warp with the Holiday season nearly upon me.

There is so much to do and so little time to accomplish it. In a little over a week, Thanksgiving Day will be here with my merry little family over for the day. I do have a turkey and menu planned (whew!), but my house looks like a tornado blew through it—no counter space for cooking, no room for guests to sit…oh, my! In less than a week (aah…by the time this is posted, it will be imminent), I have a two-day book signing, which will take two precious days away from cleaning up my disaster. Then, a month later, Christmas—with all the decorating and preparations. Yikes. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely adore both holidays. They are very special, close to my heart…but I want to enter into each with my head and heart in the right place.

And, life seems to be getting in the way of writing, which makes me sad too. I love writing. Beyond my weekly blogs, I’m not doing much. Let’s just say this year is one fraught with frustrations. I know, with God’s help, I’ll get through it all. But, I’m going to have to make decisions–which is more important. Prioritize. You, my dear readers, may not be happy with me, but family trumps my books and writing, so there will be delays in the release of book three and perhaps a few missed blogs. I’ll be less stressed and the final products will be much better. Please be patient. It’ll be worth the wait.

There will be no blog entry the day after Thanksgiving—unless I’m unusually productive, so I will wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving Day now. Take time to be present with your family and friends. May you find many things to be thankful for on this special day.

Have a blessed week.

Stuff…

I AM ALWAYS FINDING MYSELF scurrying around, trying to accomplish way too many things and, at the end of the day, I am disappointed at how little I seemed to have accomplished. I am a list maker — it’s the only way I can remember things. And it’s all about the quantity of items on that list. Forget about the complexity of things, how long it takes to do them, or any unplanned things that popped into the midst of my scheduled plans. I never seem to count those things, so by discounting them, I’ve demeaned the actual productivity of my day.

I don’t stress about it as much as I did in the past. The marking off of all items at the end of the day is definitely a thing of the past…yeah, it’s taking me longer to accomplish things, too (insert loud sigh here). Now, even if I don’t consider the complexity or things not even on the list, I try to be satisfied that something has been accomplished. I keep telling myself I want to simplify my life, yet I do the exact opposite: fill my time and life with so much ‘stuff’, both physical and emotional, creating a complicated, action-packed, and sometimes stressful life.

Stuff. We all have it (well, a very large portion of the population, at least). Do we need it? Probably not as much as we fiercely cling to. I am a ‘collector of things’…that’s a nice way of saying I don’t throw things out — well, not much anyway. I’m not a hoarder (thankfully), but this collection certainly creates a pretty big clutter.  Those that have seen my house would agree. I have a friend that has offered to help purge my house. I’ve said no, not yet…not now, maybe later. Why? Because she’s ruthless. I mean, really ruthless…I once confided in another friend that she’d probably pick up an item and ask if I wanted it — and if I hesitated for even a nano-second, it’d be in the trash…giving me no time to evaluate the value (whether monetary or as a personal treasure) and I’m not ready to let go of things that fast.

So, my stuff continues taking up space. Thankfully I have room (way too much). But it would be nice to bid a permanent farewell to some of it. Who am I kidding? Most of it. Occasionally, I go into fits of purging and make a minuscule dent. I have a few rooms de-cluttered and it’s nice. There are still three rooms and (shudder) the garage to tackle. Oh. Did I mention the storage space? Things get tidier, then in the process of cleaning up, I create another clutter…it’s a Catch 22…definitely.

Shedding stuff is very difficult. It’s time consuming. Heart-wrenching. Painful, at times. And I get mired in memories, losing track of time, making little progress.

So, we’re back to my scurrying around, eh? Finding a chunk of time — on a regular basis to concentrate on this perpetual (it really is a year-round thing) ‘Spring Cleaning’ is hard. And as a card-carrying Procrastinator, it’s quite a challenge. Am I up to it? Am I up to the challenge with so many other things that seem far more important, vying for my attention — like writing/editing my books, writing this blog, socializing…traveling (insert huge grin)? I would love to be able to take back ownership of my home. To be in charge instead of being a slave to trying to keep things manageable…oh, my. Ha! I’d rather be gardening…or writing. Or just about anything else, rather than house cleaning, sorting through all my stuff.

Is there a magic genie that could just do it for me? Please?

Sigh.

I can dream, can’t I? May you find your life unfettered by clutter, yet filled to overflowing with blessings of joy.

 

 

Do I Or Don’t I? Sigh…

I’M TRYING TO MAKE A DECISION. I’ve been contemplating this for quite some time, too.
To go, or not to go…that is the question.

I’ve been reading blogs about the benefits of attending writers conferences. Kristen Lamb recently wrote about the pros of attending conferences in her blog. She’s good. Great at selling ideas. http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/why-all-writers-should-attend-a-writing-conference/

But I haven’t been able to figure out how to manage everything I’m already doing now and squeeze a conference in too…plus, there’s the impact on the pocket book. My trip to Europe will pummel my account for quite some time…

My trip has been in the planning stages almost as long as my pondering of the conferences. I’m not sure if I should be kicking myself in the behind or just chuckle at where I place my priorities. Some may feel the trip is a luxury. A non-necessity. Perhaps, at least the distances I am going to find relaxation. The trip will be my break from the frantic work I’ve done on two books–though, I know I will make it a working holiday and I’ll begin working on book three–and it will refresh my creativity. Yes, I could go somewhere closer…and it would be a lot less expensive, but I want to do my travels abroad while I’m still able.  I’ll be taking a ton of pictures so I’ll have a plethora of choices for my Painterly side to play with and my travels will give me plenty to write about on my blog when I return. The conference, on the other hand, will be work. Networking, learning, and sharing ideas (in a ‘work’ sort of way). Don’t think I’m ready for more work. Not yet, at least.

I need some serious ‘playtime’.

Well, I think I’ve answered my question about the writers conference–at least for now. Once I have three books under my belt–or book four, maybe I’ll be able to connect better then–early next year…I’ll just have to see how things go and play it by ear. Until then, I guess I should get back to my travel plans.

Cheers!

THERE ARE MORNINGS…

DAYS AROUND HERE CAN BE SO FICKLE.  Some start off with a bang.  Wake up and the promises of sunshine and great productivity flash all around.  Energy abounds.

Other days begin with the dense fog not only hanging heavily in the sky, but in my brain, leaving me to wonder just where the day will take me.

These last few days — well, almost a week now — have been quite a mix of these sorts of beginnings.  One day, I’ll wake to sun streaming through the kitchen window, promising a beautiful day, and once the coffee kicked in, indeed, it is a magnificent, productive day.  Temperatures soar, as do my energy levels.  I love days like that, but they can be exhausting.

The next few days had me starting slow, with grey skies and chilly weather.  I felt like bundling up as we head to the middle of May.  Guess I’ll never get my ‘cold weather clothes’ put away.  I have to chuckle about that.  With the cooler weather, it takes a bit longer to get the joints moving, even with coffee.  I’m figuring that God knows when I need to slow down, and since I’m not likely to heed the obvious signs — especially if I have something that must be done, He helps out, causing me to put the brakes on, thankfully!  But, I think I wish I would just remember to take days slower, rather than deal with the physical reminders laid before me.

Then, the weather bounces, from one day to the next, from delightful and balmy, to gloomy and cold weather, then back again.  Winds pick up, die down, only to resume once again.  One never knows what to expect from day to day.  And, it depends on where I am, also.  If I’m home (inland) and it’s gorgeous, that does not necessarily mean I’ll encounter the same weather on the peninsula…and vise versa.  But, then again, it could be the same weather in both places.  Makes me shake my head.

Dress for warm and bring layers to stay warm in Spring, Summer and Fall (and dress for cold and bring added layers for Winter).  That’s my mantra.

With my Writerly side busting to get back to work and my Painterly side — oh…and then there’s the Administrative side (having to deal with both of the other two…poor thing!).  Hmmm.  I thought I only had two sides.  Well, that makes me more than multi-dimensional, yes?  I’m giggling.  Rambling, too.  I am so sorry.

As I was saying, my Writerly side wants to get back to work, but until the two exhibits are over and done, it’s pouting in the corner, poking and prodding at me now and then.  The bruises are beginning to hurt.  Writing my blog does not satisfy it at all any more.  Though, I always will enjoy writing these posts, the writer in me wants to bring my manuscript to a conclusion…wrap it up (aka–finish editing!), get it published — so I may start on a new writing venture I’ve had bouncing around in my brain, trying to find a way to escape before I’m ready for it.  And, for that matter, so do I.  I had set aside April and May to do just that.

I am so excited about these two art exhibits of my fledgling work.  Definitely an ego booster, but also an extremely energy-sucking side-tracker.  I can only do one thing at a time.  So much for multi-tasking.  I used to be so good at it.  No more, I fear…

So, until 26th May, I will continue my juggling act with the Writerly and Painterly sides.  Sunday will be a day of rest, then onward, hanging up my Painterly cap and donning my Writerly cap to completing my manuscript.  My blog posts may be few and far between until it’s done, but at least you’ll know I’m working hard to reach my goal.

May your last days of May hold much hope and blossom into a beautiful June.

I Am Blessed

IN THE LIFE I HAVE chosen to live, one day can, and often does, blur endlessly into another.  The days are peppered with errands and chores that could happen just about any day, without any set routine, making it hard to define a specific day — none of the “I’m doing laundry, so it must be Tuesday…”  Nope, not in this house.

I must have my coffee first thing every day.  Animals must be fed daily.  But, aside from that, there is no set day for laundry or chores that shout to be done.  My Artistic Siren may beckon for a trip out into the woods for a photo shoot or a day at the printing press or even for me to hunker down in front of the computer typing madly putting my thoughts on ‘paper’.  I am able to pick and choose what to do (usually) when I wish.  Things that really should be done may pile up, but I’m okay with that.  I’ve come to enjoy this randomness.

That is, every day but Sunday.   I thoroughly enjoy the beautiful routine that make my Sunday. It does start the same as every day: caring for the animals, my cherished cups of coffee (and breakfast), but after that, I am able to get a little dressed up.  I’m a country girl and a little bit of a tomboy, too, so I find an occasional dress-up day is fun.

I get to spend one-on-one time with my Father and my church family.  To sing beautiful worship songs.  Listen to godly words of wisdom that seem to be just for me, to learn to weave into my daily life.   It is a time of reflection, celebration, communion and praise. A time I look forward to, and need.  Every.  Single.  Week.  I cherish my Sundays.

This is not to say that Sunday is the only day that God is in my life. I know this may be the case for some people.  Not me.  Far from it.  It’s just the day that I set aside to celebrate Him fully.

Every day of the week, I am continually awestruck at the beauty that surrounds me.  All that He has made for me–the natural beauty of a sunset, sunrise, how the clouds hang in the sky, how the wind sounds as it dances through the branches of trees, or the graciousness I see in people around me.  The miracles of science made possible with mans existence — and our existence made possible by Him.   I am thankful to be healthy enough to work in my yard and home, for all of my friends and extended family…oh, thankful for so many things.

This life God has blessed me with is one great adventure, every single day, especially when I open my eyes and see it.  Really see it.  There may be pain in my life, taking various forms (mental, physical) in different degrees, but just like everyone else I breathe, I walk, talk, crawl, sing, laugh, shout out in anger or joy…weaving in and out of and negotiating with this thing we call Life.

I am thankful, joyful, humbled.  I Am. Blessed.  It’s that simple.

Sometimes I do think, “Oh, if only I had more money. I could do this or that…” I am quietly reminded to be satisfied with who I am and what I have. I am reminded that I can accomplish so much with what is at hand.

I have a smile and I use it abundantly.  I have time–well, that I’m not so proficient at managing. I have talents–some found and constantly explored, some yet to discover. I have compassion.  Desire, and more.  I know I am commanded to use all of these things. Create. Live. Love. Share. Help others find joy.

What I need to remind myself–and wish to share with you, is that is important to share your wealth —  your blessings, whatever form they may take, with others.  Appreciate the little things in life.  Sometimes that is all there is for the time.  God has blessed each and every one of us, in one way or anther, so that we may in turn bless others.

I’m just saying.  I’m blessed.  How about you?