Monday, March 2, 2015

Rooting the Routine!

"I love it when a plan comes together."

Hannibal Smith of the A-Team quoted that gem in every episode. I can proudly quote it now because after all that planning, grinding out details, working and reworking my time, I've finally got the first part of my day figured out.

At least until it changes again. I have teens. I have a husband. You know that sucker's going to change eventually. But for now, I nailed that thing to the floor.

I wake up at 4:30 am. By 10:30, I have finished my editing jobs, exercised, and eaten breakfast. Most of the business world is just attaining functionality by then, and I'm charged and ready to take on the world.

I'm also ready to take on the Ultimate Chaos- housework.

Basically the day is free to do with it what I will. I have wrestled the greased panther. I have changed the world (at least the one in my head) for the better, and I can take on whatever giants throw at me. I am David, King of the Slingshot.

Clearing my mornings helps me in other ways too. I get to chat with God in a relaxed state, because all the tough stuff is done. Oh I pray first thing in the morning, but that's more of a "checking in" phone call- "Hi Lord! Praise you a lot, here's the stuff I need, please watch over me and mine, let me know if You need anything, send money, thanks a bunch, Bye." Now that the proverbial air is clear, I can just chatter away with God and listen to the deeper messages He's trying to send me. I don't have to dedicate a huge block of time either- I can talk to Him sitting on the couch for an hour or discuss things as I'm washing dishes, or singing praise songs as I vacuum. It's all good with Him.

I like working in the mornings. The kids are fairly quiet as they get ready for school (or they're asleep when it's summer) and I have the house almost to myself. My writing room is naturally muffled by carpeting and a solid door, and there's a sense of leaving the world behind when the door shuts with a slight ka-thunk. When that door is shut I can conquer the universe, create something new, or brainstorm the next Great Idea.

It took me years before something in my routine finally clicked. This is the only time of the day that the schedule is entirely up to me, but I never realized it until now. I still struggle with the rest of the day, but that's because I'm dealing with other people- and other people tend to mess everything up. Especially teenagers. And husbands. And cats. 

Yes, sometimes even this phenomenal accomplishment will get interrupted by chaos, but not very often. Not as often as the afternoons- at least for me. My afternoons would turn some people into hermits. 

Root the routine. Be your own cheerleader. Put a pom-pom on your pen and write down your routine!

Do you have an unblemished, uninterrupted part of a routine? WOOHOO! You're ahead of most people! Still working on it? WOOHOO! You haven't given up and become a hermit! Don't have one yet? WOOHOO! Getting started is fun because you have the entire day at your mercy!

As for me? It's time for breakfast! WOOHOO!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mustard Seed Sparkles!

A mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds. That's all the faith God says we need to do great things (Luke 17:6). But sometimes it's really hard to see how much an itsy-bitsy mustard seed can achieve.

What if that seed of faith was a bead of light in a dark room? It doesn't matter how dark the room is- you'll still be able to see it glow. That tiny light still manages to push back the darkness, and the darker the room gets, the stronger the light. From this perspective, that's a powerful little seed!

Spring will soon be coming. If we took that seed and planted it, it would grow into a huge plant. All it needs is good soil, water, and the warmth of the sun- or should I say Son? The seed can't become what it needs to be if we stick it in a drawer. Just like putting a lamp in a closet- it's hard to see the light when you cover it up or tuck it away.

God meant for us to take that seed and show it to the world. Let it shine. Plant it. Use what God gave us to make it grow. Then share the harvest.

If you have a mustard seed of faith (like me), don't compare your tiny seed to those that have bigger seeds, like cucumber seeds, or even avocado pits. We need to grow at our own pace to have healthy roots that dig deep and hold fast.

We need to hold up our seeds and let them shine- don't be afraid to show others your tiny seeds- Let God see the sparkles!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Writer Fighter

I am the fighting champion of the universe- in my own head.

If you ever wondered what it's like to be a writer, do let me explain in the most clear, concise ways possible.

We are lunatics. Pure, unadulterated nutballs.

Who else could spend a day by herself writing, then leave the room and want to be alone? 
Who else would avoid drama of any kind, because she just had a huge mega-argument with all of her characters?
Who else can create a myriad of characters and no plot? Or a ton of plots, but no characters?
Who else would have five hundred projects ready to write, then she gets writer's block?

Me, that's who. And anyone else who puts a pen to page or fingers to keyboard.

Yes, I have spent the day writing. My day starts out with a story or an article, and I either have to find a plot or research some information to get the work going. By the time I'm done reading, researching, messaging and emailing people, I want nothing to do with anyone once I leave my writing space. Basically, I need to unclutter my head before it explodes.

You want drama? Try talking to fifteen characters all wanting to be in the limelight. Several of them complain that what you wrote isn't true to their personality. Or they just plain hate the way you wrote them. Not to mention the in-fighting when the antagonist and protagonist get together, pointing fingers at the Comedy Relief or the Best Friend, for getting them into this story in the first place. 
By the time you finish the story (or in my case, the paragraph), any other drama will not be tolerated. Heads will roll if my children even speak to me about what one sibling did to another- both will be grounded for life at the drop of a hat. Luckily for me my kids know this, and don't talk to me for at least an hour after I've been writing.

I have yet to meet a writer who can create both plot and characters fluidly. Writers have trouble with one or the other, period. For me it's plot. I have a ton of characters (hence the arguments in the above paragraph), but nowhere to put them. Others have issues with plenty of places to go, but no one to invite to the party. You can't put us writers in a group either- we'll be so busy telling the tales of the difficulties in our writing journeys that no one will be doing any actual writing!

Writer's block comes when everything is so jammed up in your head that nothing moves- much like a traffic jam. You have to find the right pebble in the landslide to get things moving again, and that can take forever. The best part is this usually happens when you have a deadline. Ideas will flow like a raging river when there's no deadline, but give a writer a deadline and her brain becomes like a constipated elephant. 

I'm a writer. I'm a fighter. I'm a character referee and plodding plotter. I'm also a nutball. And that's okay. 

And the second I'm finished this post, I'm going to need a nap, because my characters are yelling at me for telling on them. Yikes!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Many Hats

I wear a lot of hats.

Not literally of course- my hairdo would be a hairdon't- I'm speaking figuratively. I have more hats and Dolly Parton has wigs.

The mom hat alone has many tiny hats within it. The cook, taxi, maid, referee and coach hats are all included under this single chapeau. But I do wear others.

My writer's hat has a band about it, sporting all of my notes, outlines, and drafts. It's a heavy hat sometimes, but also really cool because the band can hold a lot- many a tree has been sacrificed so I could jot down whatever comes to mind. This hat also has several pen and pencil holders for convenience.

My crafter's hat is sparkly, soft, and can turn into a bowl to hold all of my origami beads, quilting thread, or pins for tacking straps to tote bags. The rainbow and unicorn fabric helps me to get inspirated (not inspired- inspirated means a really fun idea, not the high-falootin' ideas the word 'inspired' sounds like it gives) to do fun and funky creations. Just looking at this hat makes me grin like a Cheshire cat.

The housekeeping hat should be part of the mom hat, but I refuse to tack it on. This hat is best stored in a closet somewhere, and is made of a drab, itchy wool that I can't stand and hate wearing. I tried burning it, but apparently it's flameproof- or my husband keeps replacing it with a new one. The band holds the cleaning spray bottle, rags, and vacuum attachments. Ugh.

The wife hat is a fun hat. It has purple sequins on it and plays music so I can dance with my husband any time I want. A rose is tucked into the brim for impromptu tango sessions, and smells of chocolate to keep me smiling. This hat also comes with glasses that always puts my husband in the best light, and helps me to see all the good within him. I think both of us like this hat a lot.

The organizational guru hat has many pockets for organizing things, as well as a pad and pen holder for scheduling. This is probably the hardest of the hats to wear, because there just isn't enough time in the day to schedule wearing all of the other hats and this one! But this hat got me through becoming a hoarder (though I admit it got lost for a time in all of the clutter), so I won't toss it in a closet or set it on fire. 
This hat isn't one of my favorite hats, but it helps me get everything organized so we can keep appointments and walk around the house without tripping over things.

I wear a lot of hats. This post would be a lot longer had I listed all of them. Finding a way to balance all of these hats is the hardest thing to do sometimes- and other times nearly impossible. So I hunker down, slap a hat on, and get the job done to the best of my ability- because God bestowed me with a hat I can never take off- it's shiny and white and reminds me that I am His- and no matter what I do, He is always there for me- no matter which other hat I'm wearing!

Monday, February 2, 2015

ER- Eventually Respond?

Hospitals make no sense.

My husband has been sick this week. We thought it was the flu, so I made him soup and herbal teas and let him rest as much as he needed. But the other night he was looking flushed. His heart rate was skyrocketing, erratic and he had a fever. Time to go to the ER.

We got into the van and...

Nothing. The battery was dead. Apparently the brake light switch was shorted out and drained the battery dry. We weren't going anywhere.

After a few calls, one of the deacons just happened to be at church at the time, right around the corner from our house. He had room for one person, so he took my husband to the ER, then came back for me. Thank You Jesus for cell phones!

I found my husband in a very crowded ER. I hate the ER. It's supposed to stand for Emergency Room, but we all know there's nothing "emergency" about it. Back in the olden days before the government got involved, you could go to an ER and get taken in right away. Now you sign in and they make you wait. Then register. Then wait. Then take your vitals. Then wait again.

We got there just before 9pm. It was now almost midnight. I went to the registration desk. I interrupted a very enthusiastic conversation about a popular magazine's article. 
"Excuse me, " I politely interrupted, "Can I ask a silly question?"
The woman sighed and gave a reluctant smile. "Sure."
I smiled to reassure her I wasn't going to"go postal" (or in this case "go ER") on her and asked "Why does it take so long to get service in the ER? It kinda defeats the purpose of 'emergency', don't you think?"
She leaned forward in her seat, folding her hands and taking the 'I'm-about-to-lay-some-knowledge-on-you-so-pay-attention' pose. "Most of the patients here aren't emergencies- that's why we take vitals beforehand. Anyone in need of immediate attention gets priority and is sent back sooner."
I nodded. "So, if someone comes in that's in dire need..."
"....will go ahead of everyone else." she finished for me.
"And how many doctors are on staff at the moment?" I asked, looking about the crowded ER.
"One right now." she replied. "We had two until ten, but after ten, only one doctor for the night shift."
I was astounded. "One? Why are you so understaffed?"
She chuckled. "We're not. Every ER is like this."
I held out my hands in exasperation. "Okay, wait a sec- let me get this straight. This is an Emergency Room."
She smiled. "Yes."
"With one doctor."
She smiled wider. "Yes."
"And a million patients."
She nodded. "That's right."
"So my husband and I will be here for a very long time."
She smiled again. "Probably."
I grinned and gestured back and forth between her and me. "Do you not see the irony in this?"
She chuckled again. "I do, but that's the way it is."
"Thank you. I'll go back to my seat now and hope we'll be called sometime before the Second Coming."
She just laughed and went back to her conversation.
I sat next to my husband and told him not to die before we got called in.

Lucky for us, we were called within an hour or two. After x-rays and blood work, we were told he had a viral infection. He was prescribed aspirin for the racing heart and told to do exactly what I've been doing this whole time. Six hours of waiting (and probably a nice sized ER bill) to be told to do what we've been doing. I'm in the wrong business.

Now we had to get home. It was almost 3:30 and his cousin he works with would be getting up for work soon. He said to call if we needed a ride home, so we did- he lost and hour of sleep but gained our eternal gratitude- it would've been a long walk home.

I think we need to re-educate the medical community. Emergency should be emergency, not "wait until you collapse before we see you" nor should it mean a six-hour wait. One woman said her husband was brought in by ambulance at 1:30 and she was still there when we arrived! He was taken in just an hour or so before because they discovered he had appendicitis. So they were in the ER even longer than we were. Apparently even being brought in by an ambulance doesn't mean it's a true emergency either. Sheesh!

I think ER's should be renamed- it should be called what people yell when they get there- AARRGH!

And they wonder why people don't like hospitals!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Undercurrents of Wonderfulness

Have you ever felt like something big was going to happen, but it just wasn't there yet? Like there was an underground torrent of good stuff under your feet- you can feel the vibrations of something powerful working in the background, but you couldn't put your finger on what it was or what was going to happen?

Oh yeah baby, that's an immensely awesome feeling- and a scary one too!

When God decides to do something in your life, He never does it in a small way- and that way can be a roller coaster ride- both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

I feel a lot of big life changes are going to happen soon- and I don't know whether to pack the duct tape or the parachute!

What I do know is this- when it happens, I'm going to be sloppin' over with God's wonderfulness.

It feels like Christmas when you know that great, big package with the fancy paper and ribbons has your name on it- but you can't open it yet. AARGH!

I hope that you're feeling this too- the question is, what can we do about it without jumping out of our own skin in frustration?

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, grin your face off, and thank Him for doing all of this Great Stuff He's about to do, and then go out into the world and act as if He's already done it.

Smile like you've already been blessed, Talk with others and use that excitement to make people excited too. Do like that song Happy says- Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof- act like there's no limits to being blessed- and when God is in charge, there isn't!

I'm doing that in this blog, and with anyone I meet via the Internet or the real world. I'm going to celebrate the undercurrents of wonderfulness God has planned- because when it comes, it's going to be awesome!

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Years Evolutions

Yes, you read that right- evolutions, not resolutions. Because resolutions don't stick, while evolutions do.

Not because it's the New Year either- it's because I'm finally ready to get serious, and my nutritionist appointment was in early January. So there.

For details, I have restarted my weight loss blog I'm Fighting Fat. It's also filled with trials and errors from the past, so  learn from it what you will. But I'm starting over- one more time and I wanted to share my journeys with you.

I just acquired an exercise bike, because exercising out in the cold with osteoarthritis is a bad idea. If I don't exercise, I don't work those joints, I don't increase mobility, and eventually I'll freeze up like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Not good if I plan to be remotely active in the spring.
To compromise, I got a stationary bike- one I can use while I watch videos. That will practically guarantee that I do 20-30 minutes of my require exercises each day. Especially when it's too rainy/icy/snowy/hot/humid/whatever outside.

No excuses this time!

This also gives me the chance to do a little redecorating. The living room is a feng-shui disaster, and is very, very cluttered. Now I have an exercise bike on top of that, so a little revamping is in order- and I get to have the men in the family move stuff while my daughter and I make thinks shiny- that's always a good thing.

I'm also making other changes. I'm working on formatting a book for self-publication as well as getting one published through an indie publisher (hopefully). The ideal would be to get both out this year, but I'll settle for at least one. And you, Dear Readers, will be the first to know when I do!

I'd joined Toastmasters to learn public speaking, but I'm really not enjoying the meetings. I thought it would be more like a class, but it seems as if there's more fumbling around on my own than anything being taught, so I might find a better way to learn this skill. Besides, I don't like the manuals that tell you you have to achieve all these goals (like be a timekeeper, or an "um" counter) in order to move on. I just don't learn that way.

Crafting is still in the mix- I think I'd go nuts if I didn't have a creative outlet using my hands! My plan is to work all year on finishing UFO's (UnFinished Objects) and sell them at craft shows during the college and Christmas seasons. In the meantime, I'll put some handcrafted goodies up on my Etsy store

I hope to get my joints limber enough to get my garden restarted in the spring. We had a bumper crop of tomatoes last year (I made some great homemade sauce!), but it played havoc on my joints because I'd planted a little too much and the plants grew into tomatozillas that I needed a scythe just to get to the shiny red produce. Better planning, better planting and better use of small garden space is key, because we don't have time to do the community garden this year.
I'm plating a lot more herbs too. I've been "going herbal" for about a year now, and found they make really good remedies for everyday afflictions- though I won't go all out and get a beehive for fresh honey- I need an excuse to go to Lancaster, after all!

Lots of plans. Lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I just hope I can pull all of this off! But to be honest, I'll be happy to pull most of this off. Especially the book- I really want that to happen this year!