Category Archives: Blogging

If You Give a Writer an Assignment

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Just using the word “writer” in the title of this post makes me cringe. I don’t consider myself a “writer,” especially since most of my words stay in my head and never see the light of day. But occasionally, people who know I like to play with words invite me to work on writing projects. I hadn’t really worked on anything in years, but a couple of weeks ago I was given an opportunity to help with an assignment.

I knew I hadn’t blogged or journaled or written much more than a grocery list on a regular basis in awhile, but I had no idea how out of writing shape I was until I sit down to actually write.

I love to write…in my head. The words come fast and freely. To actually get the words out of my head and into a black and white form that can be shared with others isn’t as easy. I don’t have ADD, but when I sit down to write, I am my own biggest distraction.

I thought I’d share with you this play-by-play account of what happened last Wednesday when I sat down to work on the new project:

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Told kids I had a project I needed to work on for half an hour. Asked them to find something quiet to do so I could have a little bit of quiet space.

Sat down at computer to write.

Checked email to make sure nothing urgent was in my inbox that needed my immediate attention. Found four emails that needed a quick response. Responded to the two easy ones and ignored the rest.

Decided I should check Facebook so I wouldn’t be tempted to check it later. Spent way too much time rewinding through the newsfeed.

Refereed fight between kids. Made an idle threat or two.

Clinked on link to an article someone posted on FB newsfeed.

Clinked on link to another article that was mentioned in the first link.

Opened document file to begin writing project.

Began first paragraph.

Wasn’t sure about the punctuation in the first sentence. Went online to google punctuation rules. Disagreed with the references I found.

Remembered I had a book downstairs that might support my punctuation opinion. Ran downstairs to get it.

Saw plate of cookies on kitchen counter. Grabbed one for energy.

Found book. Looked for punctuation rule that used to be in there and discovered it must have disappeared.

Ran back by counter and grabbed another two more cookies.

Noticed someone had made a comment on a post on my Facebook wall. Responded to comment.

Went back to paragraph. Changed punctuation of the first sentence.

Decided that maybe some background music would be inspirational and might chase out the song earworm that has been burrowing in my brain for three days.

Pulled up Spotify and decided maybe listening to the song earworm would actually help. Listened to song. It didn’t help.

Remembered that I want to teach the kids a Christmas carol in Hawaiian, so I looked up a few on Spotify. Realized that iTunes would have more options, so  pulled up iTunes.

Found several that were promising. Decided to compare the songs between artists to see which one was better. Couldn’t decided so downloaded several.

Googled the Hawaiian lyrics. Made a new document file to cut and paste lyrics and tried to print them out only to find out that the black ink cartridge was empty. Changed cartridge.

Attempted to print lyrics again.

Cleared paper jam.

Last try to print lyrics was successful.

Listened to songs while reading the lyrics to make sure they matched. Some didn’t. Researched lyrics that would actually match the song. Found them. Cut and pasted them into document.

Attempted to print revised lyrics.

Cleared paper jam.

Printed revised lyrics.

Oh, yeah! The writing project. Wondered if my lack of focus and discipline could be why it takes me so long to write one stinking article.

Wondered if my friend Deb who is an actual writer gets distracted as easily as I do.

Sent her a  ridiculously long message on Facebook chronicling all of the above events to ask her if she gets as easily distracted as I do when she’s trying to write. She does.

Remembered that I didn’t actually take the chicken for tonight’s dinner out of the freezer.

Researched Pinterest for quick supper ideas.

Realized that I had none of the ingredients needed for any of the quick supper ideas I found.

Gave myself ten more minutes to work so I could go downstairs and try to salvage supper.

Decided maybe the time pressure was effective because I was finally getting in the flow and making some headway.

In the middle of the best sentence ever written in the history of words, was called downstairs because the kids had locked us out of my bathroom.

Knew the answer to the “why” question would leave me wanting, but asked anyway. Was left wanting.

At the scene of the crime, discovered that in their attempt to “fix it” so that I would never know, they had disassembled the doorknob so that it was hanging on by only a screw.

Tried to use my calm voice to explain to children that this is not what I had in mind when I asked them to find a quiet activity that wouldn’t disturb me.

Sent the children repeatedly to and from their father’s toolbox to bring me various and sundry screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, chisels, and the like.

Felt a little guilty for telling the child who did this that if a locksmith had to be called, the money would be subracted from his Christmas.

Assured same child I wasn’t serious and that all would be well. Hoped to myself I just hadn’t told another untruth to the child.

Remembered  Sus had recently survived a similar lockout with her closet door and texted her for advice and encouragement. She didn’t have much.

Miraculously and undoubtedly because God is kind and must like my kids, used some mysterious combination of tools and actually unlocked the door.

Thanked God that being a military wife has made me resourceful.

Patted myself on the back for being so handy.

Pondered a good theme song for the DIY show on HGTV that was surely in my future.

Thanked God again for helping me out in my time of need, even when I have a tendency to take all the credit.

Decided to work on the project another day.

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Once uponce a time…..

Once uponce a time is how my Little Snoodles used to start their stories and it seems like just as good a beginning as any, so….

Once uponce a time, there was a girl who had lots and lots of words inside her that took up valuable real estate inside her brain. Because of her husband’s job, the girl moved a lot so she didn’t always live in the same zip code or even the same time zone as her closest friends. Getting to know people well enough that you feel perfectly comfortable spilling your extra words all over them can take time, so the girl often walked around stuffed with words that had nowhere to go. One day her BFF, a plan maker and goal setter, after much thought and careful consideration, decided to start a blog. The girl, who was not known for her plan making or goal setting, didn’t give it much thought or careful consideration, but she decided to start a blog, too, because she hated to miss a good party.

The girl started writing posts about things she would have liked to have talked about over a grande chai latte with her friends if any had lived near her. Friends started visiting her blog and she even was able to reconnect with friends she hadn’t talked to in a very long time. She reconnected with a girl she’d known in college who also had a blog. Her college friend had friends who visited the girl’s blog and become the girl’s friends who lived in her computer.  Those friends had friends who visited and before she knew it, the girl’s life was rich with incredible friends who brought laughter and color and a richness to her life and she was much the better for it.

The girl was the type who actually reads instructions so she began to read blogs about blogs. The bloggers of these blogs about blogs said that the girl should have a purpose and a theme for her blog. They said she should know her tribe and gave her lists of things she should and shouldn’t do. The girl ignored them and decided she wasn’t looking for a tribe she was just looking for friends to do life with. Friends who would love her even if she had ended the previous sentence with a preposition and was overly fond of the ellipsis…..

The friends were patient with the girl when she didn’t post consistently, even though the bloggers of blogs about blogs said that she should. They didn’t mind. They were there for the girl when her journey took her down a path she wasn’t expecting to travel. The road was hard and the girl stumbled many times along the way. But the girl’s friends, many of whom didn’t even really know her by the name her mom and dad had given her, were there to help her up. They prayed for her, listened to her, encouraged her, and loved her. They were a bright light in a very dark place.

The girl’s life had changed and the girl had changed along with it. She needed a break, not from the friends, but from all the words. The words had been heavy for a long time and she needed to put them down for a bit and rest. So she did. She missed the blog and she missed the friends but the break was healthy. After awhile she felt the same feeling one might feel if she’d gone too long without writing a thank you note (a feeling the girl knew all too well, unfortunately). The more days that passed, the harder it was to know how to come back, but she missed the blog and she missed having a place to put all of her extra words.

So one night, after the dinner dishes were done (mostly) and the kids were tucked in bed (mostly), she sat down at her computer and started typing.

“Once uponce a time,” she typed and she prayed that blogging was like riding a bike. Actually it took the girl a lot longer than the average person to learn to ride a bike so that she hoped that blogging was more like reading a good book. She had no trouble remembering how to read a good book.

She couldn’t promise she’d be any more consistent at posting than she’d ever been. She wasn’t even sure that people were blogging or reading blogs these days–she thought she’d read somewhere that blogs were dead–but she’d never been on the cutting edge anyway. She’d never followed the blog rules. Why should she start now?

She’d just start writing again for whomever happened to be reading as she did life one page and one blog post at a time.

Hopefully Not the End.

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Confessions of a Runaway…..MGO

I don’t think I ever planned to run away from this blog or my old life…not intentionally, anyway.

Originally I thought I was just doing that thing my family does: we move away from one place and get settled in another.

Initially, I thought this move would be just like the others. The first few weeks are always hectic with boxes and introductions and settling in to a new routine, but eventually, I seem to always find a way to maintain old relationships while I enter into new ones, keeping one foot in my old life and the other in my new one.

This move was different.

I thought after we were settled here I would finally be able to completely dissect my grief. I would examine all of the events that had transpired in my life over the last two years and I would break them down into their smallest parts. I would process and investigate and journal and have great revelations with incredible insight. Instead, I sat down to write a blog post, reread a few of my older entries, and realized I was completely sick of hearing myself think and talk. All the grieving had left me exhausted and empty…and desperately needing a change.

In December of last year, I wrote about how I was “muddling through” the holidays. At some point in the transition from our old home to our new home, I decided I was sick and tired of just muddling. For awhile, it was the best I could do and the only way I could survive. But after two years of “just surviving,” I didn’t think I could simply “muddle” for even one more day. Call it denial, call it avoidance, but I had to find a place on the shelf to put my grief before it completely consumed me. I think maybe the grief did completely consume me because I am not the person I was before all of this happened.

Even after most of the boxes had been unpacked and we were mostly settled into a new routine, I found I was hesitant to go back to life the way it had been. And whether it was the “right,” “best,” or “nice” thing to do, I found it was easier for me to unplug from my old life for awhile.

I haven’t done a good job of keeping up with my friends from before the move, both the ones I’ve spent time with in the flesh and those of you who are my friends in my cyberlife. I feel like I should apologize for not being in touch, for not returning calls and emails, but I’m not really sorry. Maybe I should clarify that. I have missed my friends but I needed to be fully present in my new life the past few months.

For those of you who have reached out to me over the past few months, I hope I didn’t hurt you if I didn’t respond with the appreciation and love I truly feel for you.

I’ve had a lot to grieve the past year. I’ve been very outspoken about how much I miss my dad, but I’ve also had to deal with losses I didn’t talk about as freely. A lot has changed. Some for the better and some, well some for  the very different. I have spent the last few months making a conscious effort to be about the business of living. Seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling….and some days just being present in the act of being. I don’t want to muddle through this Christmas. I want to live it fully with everything I have in me. I don’t want to go through the motions for the sake of the kids. I want to celebrate this season with a full and grateful heart.

So that’s where I’ve been. As for where I’m going, I don’t know for sure. But I do know I’m thankful for the people who do life with me and who love me for who I am….whoever that may be this week.

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Blogging about Blogging

Some of you just can’t let me have my moment in the sun without photographic evidence. Sigh. I told you that I would show you pictures when I find the camera, for crying out loud! And yes, Tiffani, I know that my phone takes pictures, but the computer to whom the phone is related had to be moved along with the desk to accommodate the bed we needed for Granny’s stay this week. Yes, I’m a little testy because we still haven’t found the spoons and my cereal keeps leaking through the fork. I need my cereal experience to go well each morning in order for my day to function properly.

In other news, a friend from college posted some crazy blog number stats yesterday.  I feel like RainMan when anyone starts talking numbers above 500, but I do know those stats translate to a lot of words floating out there in cyberspace and a lot of people reading them.

Yeah, this whole blogging thing a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma for me. (It’s a little too early to be quoting Churchill, isn’t it?)  Every other week I resign from this blog. Many days I feel like my new friend (who I’ve actually met!) at New Every Morning.  I tell myself that this blog is just a place to process my thoughts and if anyone happens by, well, that’s just gravy. But any blogger who tells you he/she doesn’t notice how many comments a post gets will lie to you about other things, too. Blogging can easily bring out my inner junior high girl.  Every person needs and deserves to be heard. We all like to have our thoughts and feelings validated by others. We are hard-wired for relationships and we especially need for people to truly know us. One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotations says that  “friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.'”

I can also relate to a new friend in my computer whom I haven’t met yet.  I like it here with my friends on this blog. But this blog is only part of who I am and it can’t become the most important thing in my life. I’ve noticed that when my life outside my computer is a difficult place to be and I have less control over the story playing out around me, I’m tempted to spend even more time inside my computer where I get to write the story. That’s not always a bad thing. I can process thoughts here; I laugh here; I get encouragement and good advice here. But when I spend more time here to avoid dealing with my stuff out there, my priorities need to be realigned and refocused.

One of my favorite bloggers and I were aquaintances at our small college, but I didn’t really know much more about her than her name and that she married the really cute Beta that a lot of my friends and I admired from afar. Somewhere along the way we became Facebook friends and I started reading her blog. She was another person who encouraged me to start my own blog. Soon some of her blog friends became my blog friends. Her died was diagnosed with cancer in November, my dad in December. Our emails and blog comments became texts which turned into phone calls. We’ve talked about feelings that were foreign to us and that we didn’t even fully understand but that we held in common.

Sunday morning her dad died. Over the past few days I’ve watched old friends who had lost touch before blogging brought us back together and new friends who didn’t even know each other only months ago. Together these friends have formed a community across the country who are eager to support our friend with our prayers, love, encouragement, and even in tangible ways.  It’s really something to see and even more amazing to take part in this fellowship of friends.

I may never know who keeps visiting here from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, but I know the ones who are visiting from Washington, Oregon, California, North  and South Carolina, Texas, New York, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, and Lousiana, and maybe a few more states that I just forgot to mention.  You’re my Tweeps and the friends who live inside and outside my computer. Whatever you’re doing here, I’m glad you took the time to stop by for a few minutes.

The best conversations seem to happen in the comments after the posts, so I want to leave you with a question. Most of you read several blogs and many of you have blogs yourself. Bloggers: do you respond to commenters in the comment section or through email?  Blog readers: do you prefer to continue a conversation in the comments section or would you rather hear back from the blogger in an email? If I leave a comment in a blog, I never know if I should keep coming back to the comments to see if the blogger replies there. Or, if I respond to someone in the comments, I never know if he/she will be back to see it. Discuss amongst yourselves, please.

And if you lurk here and never comment, this would be a great day to say hi. How did you get here? What is it about a blog (not necessarily this one) that makes you want to come back again?


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This sounds like a lot of fun….

 I saw this on Lifeat7000Feet’s blog and decided to give it a try. Go on, click it!

favorites-party

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Don’t you want to play, too? If you don’t have a blog, first of all, congratulations for not becoming a statistic. Second of all, you can still play if you want! You can just leave your fun story here with me. Third of all, I don’t have anything else. I just wanted to share that my daughter likes it when we make lists and number each item with “of all.” Fourth of all, see you back here tomorrow with your favorite Thanksgiving “something” story!

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To blog, or not to blog….

That has been my question for awhile now. It seems like EVERYONE has a blog these days, and I have to admit, I enjoy reading a good blog. This summer I spent several hours of my life reading the whole life story of a complete stranger whose blog came up in a Google search for a childhood friend.  Does that make me some sort of a voyeur or just a girl who really enjoys hearing people’s stories?

What do blogs say about us as a culture? Does the world really need to know what we think about everything? Why do we feel it’s necessary to put ourselves “out there” for the whole world to see?  Are all bloggers frustrated writers looking for a creative outlet?  Are blogs helping us to be more honest about who we really are or do they giving us a false sense of camraderie and friendship with people we don’t really know? Self-serving or serving? Self-centered or higher-purposed? Food for thought or junk food for the brain?

So should I “let my words be few” or have I found a new way to “encourage and build up”?

I honestly don’t know. What do you think?

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Hello, world!

Ready or not, here I blog.

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