Why I Write

Pen Writer Girl Book Writing Notebook Notes

Writing has fallen by the wayside. Again. What is a wayside? The edge of a road. My thoughts are a bit disjointed if you can’t tell. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve put pen to paper in my journal and I’m starting to feel the weight of it. All the thoughts and ideas that keep churning around without a place to put them.

I start another writing class tonight which is actually week two and I’ve been catching up on the material I missed last week. One of them was an essay by Terry Tempest Williams titled “Why I Write“. It’s a beautiful piece and it covers just about every reason to write and I nodded along as I read. “I write to quell the pain. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts.” Yes, yes, yes. And also this: “I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient.”

Reading that made me miss writing and I wonder why I’ve left it for these few weeks. I suppose I let the busyness of life take over. School is in full force and the activities have me in a tizzy. Soccer, Cross-Country, Tae Kwon Do, Lacrosse. I was graced with a kid who wants to do everything and I’m finding it hard to reign him in. I don’t want to snuff out his youthful enthusiasm before he hits his stride.

But I also have to remember who I am and what I want because if I let it go too long I will forget. I signed up for class because I need to hold myself accountable. Left to my own devices I will let too much time pass before I return to writing. I’m always nervous about starting a new class but it’s a good nervous. It’s the energy of a new situation and getting out of my comfort zone. It’s exposing myself to ideas that will help my writing bloom and grow. It’s giving me a time and space to express myself. It’s giving me a place to be more me.

MC

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Stand up and write!

I am now a proud user of something called a CubeCorner 36 which is basically a standing desk.  When I googled it to link for the link, I was brought to a picture of a desk a bit different than the one I have in that it is white and a little wider. I love things that are white because they make me think of clean design and it’s a bit more of a contrast to my black monitors. I’m a bit jealous I didn’t get a white one, but since the office paid, I will not complain.

 

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My desk is like this but black

 

How does the desk work? It goes up and down by holding a couple of handles on either side and then you pull up and forward to go up and push away and down to go down. Going up is pretty easy but putting it back down was a bit of struggle at first. I’m either getting better at it or the joints in the desk are loosening up.

I didn’t know if I should jump right into standing so I did a little reading on the topic before commencing this activity. A few sources recommended starting slow, maybe 20-30 minutes at a time which I’ve been gradually increasing over time and now stand about 2 hours a day in 30-minute increments.  I think the goal is to spend about 3 to 4 hours standing each day which is about half of the workday.

As to some of the logistics, I do like to dress up for work (dresses, heels, etc) so I’ve had to make an adjustment with my foot attire. I still wear the heels but keep a pair of my super comfy flip flops under the desk for the standing part. I use the heels for when I go to meetings, lunch, and the bathroom since flip flops are frowned upon at the office.

A benefit to the standing desk is it allows me time away from my messy desk for a while. I try to keep my actual lower desk area clean and organized but inevitably, by the end of the week, I’ve got stacks of papers I’m working on peppered around the desktop. On the standing desk, I only have my computer screens, keyboard, mouse and cup of tea. The standing desk also allows me to have the photos and inspirational quotes I’ve put on my cubby organizer at eye level which otherwise, I rarely look at.

But, Mary, what are the benefits of actually working while standing up? Glad you asked! I’m finding it very similar to working while sitting down although I’ve read a few articles that indicate sitting down is better for things that need extreme focus or require fine motor skills. I can understand the focus thing because standing up, at least right now in my early weeks of using the desk, is ever present in my conscious mind. It’s not like I’m going to forget I’m on my feet and it can get a little tiring after a while.

I find standing best if I’m actively typing something rather than cruising the internet because I get a little sloppy with my stance when doing the former. When I’m using the keyboard, I’m in full upright position, shoulders back, hands in proper typing stance and I don’t see any lag in my typing speed. Standing has been especially good for my posture and I’ve noticed my core is getting stronger. When I’m not typing, I find myself leaning into the desk, crossing my legs, putting more weight on one foot rather than equal distribution so I need more attention to keep a proper stance.

I also listen to music while I work so at times I’ll find myself boogying or swaying to the beat which probably burns a few more calories and, in addition, makes me look a little silly. This does not deter me because I’m already a bit of an outlier at work and well, we all have our quirks. Moving to the beat does make the day a bit more enjoyable.

So, I give my solid approval to this standing contraption. I may change my mind down the line when I have a bit more experience under my feet (haha). But for now, it’s two thumbs up.

MC

Writing and Domestic Life

It has been my goal for a very long time to write a book. I let the idea go for many years but over the last several months, with mid-life firmly fading in the rearview mirror, I can no longer hold off the voice in the back of my mind: write, Mary, write (channeling Forrest Gump here). I am trying to squeeze in the time to write and so I’ve signed up for an online writing course to hold me accountable and to get help in starting the process.

Today I am working on week 2 of the class where we write the first chapter (or any chapter or scene). Week 1 we completed a story summary which had sort of come to me a couple of months ago and I’ve been trying to suss out the characters over the past few weeks which helped me dive into this week’s assignment. Who they are. Where they’ve been. Where they’re going.  It’s been an interesting process!

I submitted a couple of scenes earlier in the week and now I’m looking at the feedback and all the holes I need to fill, the main character’s qualities and motivations I need to shore up. I’m questioning if writing is a sane and feasible goal when being a reader suits me so well.  I am finding just about anything else to do instead.

The dishwasher needs emptying. Dirty clothes are strewn in piles around my bedroom floor (three rooms away from where I’m working). The kitchen floor, which is in my sightline, is shouting to be steam cleaned and the bathrooms, well let’s not get started there. The counters are begging me to remove all objects to clean and dust. I think you get the picture. Believe me, these things go unnoticed and unchecked Monday through Friday because we’re barely home or I’m sitting outside reading until it’s almost time for bed.

So now I have an empty house (key element) and I’m fighting to keep my butt in this chair. I need to empty my brain of all the ridiculous clutter that is spinning around and get back to work. So here I am emptying it. And my dishwasher is unloaded and a load of laundry is spinning in the background. Sometimes you need to give in to your inner voice to go forward.

Thanks for listening.

MC

Writer’s (un)block

I have been away from the blog for a bit (the post I published yesterday was written a few month’s ago). It has not been an auspicious beginning for me with the new site! I was stumped as to why I had such a block against writing and so instead of ringing my hands over it any longer, I made it as simple as possible and started putting pen to paper for the last two months. It may have done the trick!

Pen Writer Girl Book Writing Notebook Notes
I wrote about anything and everything that popped into my brain. What happened during the day. How I slept. What I ate. Who I saw. It was painfully dry! Then something started happening and I began to wake up early (5:00/5:30) eager to open the notebook and let my thoughts pour out.

Much of the early stuff I wrote was about my shopping ban and things that were coming up for me during this period. I wrote down things I had never told anyone about my finances when I was in my early 30’s, things I was so ashamed of, but the act of putting them on paper allowed me to release them and let go and boy did that feel good! What I learned during my shopping ban will likely make into its own post at some point too.

I was also struggling with some issues that were happening in my life that were leaving me less than peaceful and I knew it was because my recovery effort had stalled. I double downed and got back on track with it. If I hadn’t been writing, it may have taken me longer to figure out what I needed. Also, I began to start each passage with this prayer:

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This returned me to a peaceful mind. I still recite it each morning before I begin the day. I always need to be reminded that I have to turn myself to His hands and stop being the control freak I want to be. Some things are so hard to let go of!

There was/is also a lot going on with the family dynamic and my son’s behavior. I wrote it all out. I created my own prayers about it and included them under the third step prayer that I started each day’s entry with. It really helped! There is much more to say on this topic so I will leave it to its own entry. But, really. Writing these things down and getting them out of my mind was a tremendous help.

So I am cautiously optimistic I may be able to produce more blog content (I am a marketer if that phrase didn’t make that clear) and get on a regular schedule of posting. It really feels good to be writing again!

MC

 

 

I am not writing

Ha! I thought I was back. Not yet, apparently.

I can’t understand how the yen to write on a nearly daily basis has dried up so suddenly. Do I have nothing new to say? Have I said everything I need to? Maybe I’m living life differently now so that I have less stuff bottled up to throw out on the page. I’m pretty sure none of these are true.

Perhaps by naming this blog I Am Writing, I have jinxed myself into not doing it. So therefore I must force the issue until it happens more naturally. It brings to mind a quote I borrow from Louis L’Amour:

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So today, I am turning on the faucet and what comes out just might be a little rusty.

I think I’m going to have to rely on the word prompt of the day, even though I’m not sure what it means to me: parlay.

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The word couldn’t have been stuck, huh?!

A cumulative series of bets in which winnings accruing from each transaction are used as a stake for a future bet.

I can do this.

Maybe this  can describe my newfound frugality? (not sure if that’s the right word) where I have forgone shopping for the sake of shopping over the past month and decided to roll it right through lent. Instead of buying clothes for myself and things for our home, I’m saving, paying off debt and thinking of better uses for my part of the family money. I’m trying to purge and simplify. Lighten and minimize. Experiences over things.

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I am a shopper at heart and I love style and new clothes, shoes, makeup and the like. I also love to peruse stores like Target and Home Goods to find little things that will make life just that much better.  But along the way, I finally took a look at what these purchases are adding up to and I’m finding it isn’t much. The newness always wears off and begs to be replaced by something shinier and bigger than before. I was always running ahead of earnings if you know what I mean. Always carrying just a bit of debt that would never be paid off so I could have the things I wanted when I wanted them.

On February 1st after scanning my multiple charge accounts, I announced the plan of no spending to my husband and challenged him to join me. He was reluctant but finally agreed (his Amazon Prime habit is HUGE) and for a month the boxes stopped coming. I went on vacation with my dad near the end of the month and haven’t had a chance to ask him about how it felt to cut the spending for the month yet but I plan to soon.

As far as my experience, the first 2-3 weeks were great. I stayed right away from any stores that were not strictly for groceries. I didn’t step near Target, Marshall’s or Macy’s. But somewhere in week 3, my resolve started to loosen. What did I really need to prove? It’s not like what I was doing was going to save the world.

But it was about this time I was at church where a visiting priest came to talk about a mission he was involved with called Food For the Poor. I wasn’t expecting to be inspired by this man who was quite ancient and stooped over and could barley stand upright for the homily he was to present. But, boy! He was fierce and passionate and had me at hello.

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I suddenly knew what I needed to do with the “extra” money I was saving from not shopping. So many children and families could benefit from what I took for granted. By not buying a new outfit or a few books each month, I could provide something even more crucial than these things to someone else. Giving is not new to me, but I seem to to have gotten away from putting much thought into it. Where I work, we had been hit up by the annual United Way appeal and I would give an amount each pay period that really didn’t impinge on my lifestyle. I barely missed it and when they decided to move away from it, I never replaced my giving with another program.

I was getting the right message at the right time as they say. So I decide to up the ante (parlay my winnings) and pledge a monthly sum to Food for the Poor and renewed my commitment not to shop. I’m confident I can make it through lent as I did through the month of February by which time I hope to be quite cleanly off the charge and spend mentality I have been riding so long.

 

MC

Hello again!

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A couple of months ago I said goodbye to my former blog Mary 2.0. In it, I chronicled my first year of sobriety and shared so much about myself and my recovery that I thought it was time for a fresh start to reflect the newish me. It was a year of ups, downs and most importantly, a year of learning who I was after pealing back the many layers of me I’d tucked away. The break has been really good. In between, life has been going on and on as it tends to do and I’m ready to say hello to writing again.

I have been so conflicted of late. Everywhere you turn there is news about our new President and I’m considering another Facebook hiatus because of it. People cannot agree to disagree and some of the threads on my feed can turn downright ugly. You see I worked for a newspaper and many of my online friends are from that era. They take the criticism of the media very personally and I don’t blame them. The people I worked with are by and far some of the most honest, truth-seeking people I have ever met. But this is NOT a post about politics.

This is a post about what we need to do for each other. How we need to hear each other’s stories. We need to listen with our ears and our hearts. Really listen. It’s that simple.

Yesterday I was working with a co-worker on a problem that has come up in a project we’ve been working on together over the past year. Instead of jumping right in we started talking about books – she saw a copy of the Woman In Cabin 10 on my desk and I ended up lending it to her when she told me she had heard good things about it. I am an avid reader and if I find a connection with someone else who loves to read, I will feed that relationship with recommendations and books from my own library.

curiousOur conversation then turned to A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (it is the story of an autistic boy who finds a dead dog in his neighbor’s garden) and I remembered we both saw the play (powerful!) a few months ago. We had nodded hello from our seats across the aisle and the next week we briefly talked about our impressions of the show but that was the end of it. When she brought it up again, something made me wonder and I uncharacteristically asked a very personal question. Is your son autistic? It turns out he is and she shared some of what it’s like for her. It’s a life I cannot begin to imagine.

Simple human connection. It can do so much for us, especially when we’re wallowing in our own struggles. I often see the quote about not knowing what other people are dealing with so be kind and I really take it to heart. Yet rarely do I try to find out what that thing is. But isn’t knowing each other and what we’re dealing with part of what gives us a connection? It’s time to ask these questions and stop shouting over each other to get our point across.

The world won’t end because we agree or disagree on important issues. Two catch phrases from my recovery that I hold onto dearly are live and let live and one day at a time. It gives me immense peace to do this. But when times call for tough conversations, let’s try to be gentle with each other and really listen to what is being said. Often we’re missing what they are not saying because we’re busy formulating our own response. Look for the clues. Dig deeper. Learn about each other. And be kind.1a28c27dbb265381222d56c0a2b18b92 MC