My 500 Words Challenge: Day 4

Today’s assignment was to learn to free-write. Don’t think. Don’t edit. Just go. So here I go.

At 10:13 pm. Ugh. I really need to get a better handle on my evenings so I am not writing at the very moment I should be tucking my hiney in bed.

I’ve realized something as I have been doing this challenge each day. I am not good at just doing one thing at a time. One of my strengths is multi-tasking. Another is being strategic, or strategery…just kidding I just wanted to say “strategery” in my head because it sounds funny. Anyway I digress…

Being a multi-tasker and a strategic person is awesome in my work environment. However, when I evaluate its usefulness in my personal life, I am seeing a trend. I am seeing that I don’t allow myself to walk thoughtfully through a day. I don’t allow myself the pace of doing one thing at a time and fully being present in that one thing.

I am attacking life like my survival depended on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have lived years in survival mode for very good reasons in my past, but right now, this very season I am in, it’s not a necessary mode in which to operate.

I have a good and stable job. I can get a coffee or go out to eat on occasion if I want to. I have a comfortable and warm place to sleep. I have an amazing husband who is my best friend. Life’s good people.

And yet, I rush and rush and somehow avoid the very thing I long for. REST. And I don’t avoid it because I don’t like it. I think I avoid it because I’m not sure how to do it.

My friends in college years and years ago made a statement to me in regards to relaxing or resting. They said, “When you try to relax, you get nervous.” Ha!  How true. When I sit still it makes me want to panic.

This is a problem.

As I have found this passion to write each day, I realize all the things my days are full of that I have felt MUST BE DONE NOW. Some of them are important and valid and necessary.

Others are convenience, preference, desires. Those are the ones I need to get a handle on so they stop making me feel so manhandled at the end of each day.

I am enjoying very much what this challenge is helping me see already.

I have set my mind on making sure I complete this one task each day. 500 words. Because that is my one chosen thing to focus on I am seeing clearly now all the extraneous stuff that can probably wait or be done once a week rather than every day.

I am seeing why it is that I have never been very successful at this before. My mind operates like a blue laser scanner assessing its next target and then the next and the next, and so on.

The targets are the tasks in my multi-tasking universe and there are just too many coming at me at one time.

In my attempt to shoot each one down I don’t see that the true treasure I’m after is being passed by as I vroom vroom through the space and time I occupy.

I can’t shoot all the ships down all the time, but I can focus on the one target I have chosen and vroom in that direction with all my heart.

I’m kind of having a Star Wars moment right now. You know where Luke leaves all the ships above and dives down into the tunnel to go after the center of the death star? His course is set, no turning back. STAY ON TARGET!

My TARGET is to learn that I can write every day and I’m doing it people! I’m doing it!

And holy smokes I’ve written over 600 words….target destroyed!  Whoohoo!

Now for REST. Victory.

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My 500 Words Challenge: Day 3

Get up early to write. That was the challenge for today. It’s 7:30 pm. Oops.

I shall not be deterred!  I will write something anyway! Jeff Goins said that we can use the prompt/challenge each day or we can just write, so tonight I write freely. On my own. With no ideas…

As I ponder this particular challenge I can’t help but think of one thing I know for sure. My experience has shown me that I don’t function at a capacity level in the morning in which writing of any intelligible level can be written.

Read through a typical morning with me.

The alarm on my phone goes off. I somehow find the snooze button in a semi-conscious state. I don’t fully fall back asleep because the tyrant who designed the alarm on my phone believes snoozing should only last 5 minutes. This fact is in the back of my mind which prevents me from doing the snoozing.

I look at the ceiling and have a discussion with myself that includes things like, Do I really need my job? How long can I lay here and still be on time? How fast can I actually get ready? Can I beat my record? Should I try? I wish I was a girl who rolled out of bed beautiful. I wish it was Saturday…

When I finally get myself out of bed and into the bathroom to shower, I’ll be honest, I usually just sit down for awhile and think. Not in the shower. On the built in chair. Too honest? Maybe I should put my laptop in there. Totally kidding.

I check the weather. I think about how much I love my bed. I then realize its 7:10am and the zero barrier has come for me to make it to work on time. Time to pick up the pace and see if I can break my record and still look like a decent human being for a day.

Out of the shower, eyeliner, mascara, nothing fancy, I like to look natural. Brush the chompers because nobody has time for morning breath. Dry the hair most of the way. Throw on the non-negotiable items like CLOTHES and run for the door.

I love breakfast, but on days like this I have become a connoisseur of protein bars. Lunch. Now that can get tricky. It’s usually my creative meal. What do I have in my desk I could put together? Or better yet, maybe a meeting at work will have leftovers that they ask us to help them eat. Don’t judge me, sometimes I’ve eaten like a Queen.

Then I am off jumping into the car for my only 10 minute commute (thank God) because you and I both know from reading the above that if it was any longer there’d be no hope. 

So, you tell me…do you think the morning is the best time for me to write? Maybe not, but maybe someday. Maybe soon.

This challenge is about changing my habits, and I have a feeling it will change more than that if I can stick with it.

Day 3 complete…

My 500 Words Challenge: Day 2

It’s appropriate that the challenge today would talk about why I chose to do this 500 words a day writing thing. I was told to figure out what my motivation is. To create a plan and set some goals. Answer questions that show I plan to accomplish something.

Guess what? It’s 11:09 pm and I am just sitting down to write. So, basically I have given myself 41 minutes to come up with answers to the above. I guess that last minute fear of failure really does something for me. Just kidding. Actually, it doesn’t. Normally at this time of the night I’d accept “failure” and go to bed with the heaviness that comes from once again not being able to do what I say I’m going to do.

But I want to go to bed with a different feeling tonight. So here I am. Writing. I chose to do this challenge for one simple reason. I want to know that I can write 500 words every day if I choose to. I want to build the habit of writing. Even if it’s poo. To not always edit myself, but to just let what is in my head out.  To know that I can do this.

I want to accomplish something that I set my mind to do that is just for me, a personal goal.

I’m too tired to think of how I am going to be consistent for 30 days, but I did find myself cleaning the bedroom and bathroom and setting a plan for the next day. In the cleaning I saw my personal laptop, not my work one, so I cleaned the desk. This was a strategic move actually.

While I brought laundry in and out, I saw my laptop sitting open. It appeared to be waiting for me. I would have to touch it before I went to bed so the screen’s glow would not keep me awake. I’d have to make contact so why not write the pre-bedtime gibberish and hit my daily goal? Even though I may not have planned out my writing, I did plan out my space where I will do some writing. Yay! Failure zero, Aimee one!

I know so many other writers would tell me that I did my evening all backwards. That in order to be successful at this I need to leave the laundry piled up and the room dirty and just sit down and write.

But I think one of the goals I have for myself is to find what works for me. Who am I as a writer? What works for me? What do I need to care for prior to sitting down at my laptop?

Today it was being the wife I wish I took more time to be. It was cleaning our bedroom, tending to my sweet husband who has the flu, knowing that I won’t have to dig for a clean shirt or a fresh smelling towel in the morning before work. Knowing I prepared my home for space to create.

Knowing I prepared me.

And guess what? I wrote over 500 words. And with that, I am going to sleep well because I did what I told myself I would do.

My 500 Words Challenge: Day 1

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

Since I was a little girl, knees tucked beneath me, snuggled in a chair with a book to my face, I loved a good story. Not only did I love reading and getting to experience the other worlds and lives of the characters, I loved thinking about the person who came up with each word and created this book that I could smell, feel and make my way through.   

My Dad used to read to me every night and as I got older he took me to meet some of the authors whose books had awakened this love in me for story. I’d stand in line and watch them as they smiled and signed their name on the title page of their creation.

I wondered how it would feel to know that someone got off their couch to come tell you what your words meant to them. To get you to sign your name, so they could look at it and think, I met that person. I can’t count the number of notebooks that had different renditions of my “author” signature practiced in them after those visits to a book signing event. Some day I was going to be “that person” who people wanted to talk to.

I pray that someday is still coming. This morning someday felt really far away. I realized I hadn’t written a blog post since 2016. An entire year and I never shared any of my words with the world. I was heartbroken to think that this written love relationship that I have with words was neglected.  

And if I’m honest, it’s not the words that feel the brunt of that neglect, it is me. I have failed to connect with one of the great loves of my life. I could tell myself why that is but everyone is busy. Every person is afraid to do something that says to the world, “Hi there, hey, here’s part of my heart and my dreams, do you like it?”

And an even harder realization was that when i was younger, I wrote for me, not for anyone else. I wrote because it was fun and took my breath away and gave my tummy this tingly excited feeling to see my characters all of a sudden come to life and start living before my eyes. Doing things through my fingertips that I didn’t even know they would do until I put a period at the end of the sentence.

I miss that. I miss me doing that.

But I can change that. Just like I can write new things into my life this New Year, like tell my journal about my plans to exercise, eat more carrots, have more fun, etc. I can choose to get my “butt in chair” as Jeff Goins says and write my way back into the moments where I touch people with my part of the wonder of story.

My childlike excitement, imagination, and awe that launched me into the chair and into other worlds when I was little is still hidden somewhere down deep. So for the next 30 days I am accepting a challenge from Jeff to write 500 words every day and hopefully find that little girl again who couldn’t be kept from her books and her stories no matter what.

So, here I go. For me. For you. For this written love that won’t go away…because I think it still has something to say.

TWL: Just One Thing Series (Day 2)

For the remainder of December, some friends and I are choosing to see just one thing each day. We are taking our cues from Psalm 9:1-2. Join us? 

Here is the focus for each day: 

  • Write down one thing you’re thankful for
  • Choose to remember something good that’s happened
  • Smile
  • Sing or listen to one song and let your heart truly hear the words. What did you hear?

Leave yours in the comments below. I think it will be good for us to see what others see.

So here’s my today:

  • Thank you God for loving me and how your love continues to change my life.
  • I’m remembering the beautiful sunset you painted in the sky last night Lord.
  • I’m smiling because even if situations are hard, and we don’t know what to do, we can still have your joy and dance together in the kitchen. 
  • I listened to the song Christmas Cookies off the Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas album, and I heard the power and joy of family.

Your turn friends! 

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, Oh Most High.

Psalm 9:1-2

This Written Love Series: Just One Thing

Yesterday, a friend gently nudged my weary soul with an idea. 

I had just finished telling her that this is my favorite time of year, but due to the nature of my job,  I don’t get to pause and snuggle into the season like I used to.  

She understood, and said again, “Just one thing. Look for or even at one thing, and intentionally enjoy it.”

I think she’s on to something here, so I’m going to listen to her and give this a try. 

For the remainder of December, I’m going to choose to see and enjoy.  Want to join me?  If you’re with me,  let me know in the comments below. 

This time of year is busy,  it won’t be easy, but we can do this. Remember,  we are going to have to choose this.  

Here is the focus for each day: 

  • Write down one thing you’re thankful for
  • Choose to remember something good that’s happened
  • Smile
  • Sing or listen to one song and let your heart truly hear the words. What did you hear?

So here’s my today:

  • Thank you God for giving me rest and sleep last night
  • I am remembering how this week, through friends, you brought us a little closer to maybe being able to get a car that runs
  • I’m smiling because I’m still in my pajamas reading my Bible,  drinking coffee, and eating pastries. 
  • I listened to Out of Hiding, by Steffany Gretzinger. I heard and was reminded that You God hold my peace and how much I’m running to you today. 

Your turn friends…count them. 

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, Oh Most High.

Psalm 9:1-2

What I think God really cares about, in light of this election.

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As the debate began, I found myself overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness, but I don’t think it was mine.

Earlier in the evening, I was picking up some items at a local store and two young boys walked past me. They had their skateboards and backpacks and were talking to each other. I say they were boys because they weren’t over 12 years old.

I heard one say to the other, “Did you find what you need?” A moment later they walked past me. As I smiled at them I saw the boxes of condoms in their hands.

A heaviness fell upon me.

While in this very moment the nation watches two less than ideal people argue rather than debate, there could be two boys, not men, having sex with two young girls, not women. Children who haven’t learned to drive yet, who aren’t of an age to vote or have a say are having sex.

This is something I think God cares about.

While our candidates continue to berate each other and focus on each other, children are being left alone in a world that will destroy them at the first chance it gets. God cares about this.

When I saw those boys turn the corner and walk away, my heart longed to save them, to rescue them from the heartbreak that they had no idea would come from the choices our culture tells them is no big deal. I stood there shocked at the state of our country, of our children, of our hearts.

I know this is the season of arguing and debating and I am certain someone will have something to say in opposition to me. Go ahead, but I didn’t write this for me. I wrote this because I think God cares about much more important things than what this election is forcing us to focus on. Does He care about all the issues on the table, absolutely. However, I know He is a much more intimate God than what we give Him credit for.

Do you think He cares about two young boys with condoms in one store in one small city in one big country? Do you even think He cares at all?

That is an important question for you. I knew in that moment, I could not go to those boys. But I knew that I know the one who could. I know God heard me when I asked Him to intervene in their lives as well as the young girls they were going to. I knew He heard my prayer because I believe He gave me eyes to see them.

What have your eyes seen lately?

No matter what happens in this election, I believe God cares about all of the people who walk the streets lost and without hope. You, me, and especially our children.

We need to vote, but even more so we need to love the broken and stop arguing with each other. How God loves the world doesn’t change regardless of whose in charge and shouldn’t change how we love either.

God gave me a gift in the brokenness tonight to show me a little of what His heart must see and feel. I am praying for those boys. They may not be able to vote or drive, but they are precious to God. So this small blog post is my way of giving them a say, even if they will never know it.

God’s love isn’t political, and I hope our love won’t be either.