Thinking about writing

(Thank you to K at Walking After Midnight for the prompt.)

Thinking about writing and actually writing are not the same thing. I’ve been thinking about writing for several weeks, but I haven’t blogged for several months. And the longer I wait to write, the harder it is to write. After this long of a delay, do I even have anything to say that anyone would want to read?

I have a friend (https://theapplesinmyorchard.wordpress.com) who started blogging in the past several months, and she is doing a fantastic job of writing every day, something I long for but haven’t figured out how to do. She is a prolific writer, and I urge you to check out her blog – she’s got all kinds of fascinating topics, from education to home life and everything in between!

Can I write about things that don’t tie to my tagline? “I am not my depression.” Even though I have lots of subject ideas on living with depression, what it was like going through depressive episodes, the impact of depression on family life and work.  How to-s on living with it, living after it, etc. I have a whole file folder of topics I could address. I still think I want this to be my focus.

Then there’s just stuff from my day-to-day life. Granted, my days are pretty quiet. But as I’m learning to be content and appreciative of what is around me, I could write about those things. My backyard birds, the spotted fawns by the brook, the recent hikes I’ve taken. The peaceful days. The joy of sleeping in. Daily-ness.

I can write about special people in my life. My daughter who just graduated from college, and our fantastic weekend of family celebrating her. My adventurous son who took off for Europe for 14 days, then promptly moved west for his summer internship – where did he get such courage to take on these adventures?! My amazing husband could be part of lots of my stories – he’s in the center of my days.  My relationship with Jesus, and how our connection ebbs and flows with my effort. He is faithful – I tend to vary; so I could write about my journey with the Lord. Or searching for a church home. Finding friends. Settling into my job.

All topics of interest to… me. Anybody else?

Then again, why do I write? The question that every author must answer. Who is my audience? Do I write for myself, for clarification and release, or do I write to be heard or to start a dialogue? Maybe the answer is all of the above – something for everyone, anyone, or someone.

In which case, someone may read and identify with what I write. So I’ll write again. And I’ll start right now. Thanks for reading.

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Being Motivated to Stay Motivated

I’ve recently written about steps I can take to keep myself emotionally healthy, and my goals for doing what is necessary. But I’m finding it hard to be self-disciplined, hard to do the things I’m supposed to be doing for good mental health. When I’m not accountable to anyone but myself, where is the motivation to do what I should? In keeping with recent posts, am I putting the pieces in place to stay healthy, the tools that will keep depression away? If I’m not, why not?

I’m thinking about this because I had a blood draw today, and a followup appointment to discuss results next Friday. I’m nervous about the results – the numbers were headed in the right direction last time, but it’s important that motion has continued, and I have no idea what to expect. I need better cholesterol numbers, while keeping my blood pressure and sugars where they were 3 months ago, or even improved. My weight has gone up and down during the time passed, and I believe that changes in my medication may have had an impact – I’ll know next week.

But I can’t blame my meds when I’m not being as proactive as I should. I have reduced my sugar intake, but it’s only recently that I’m really paying attention to food labels. I’m still not exercising, hardly even a little. This is ridiculous, since I live in a beautiful paradise where I can take a walk in the sunshine nearly every day. I could walk to the workout room or pool, or drive to the beach and take a long walk in the waves.

My writing would benefit from some self-discipline. Perhaps a schedule – for daily practice, for blogging, even for my personal journaling. Certainly some discipline of regular writing if I want to be working on a book!

My efforts to reach out to others is good but could improve.  I’ve wondered if I should have said “yes” to that job all those months ago. The answer of “no” was still the right decision, but at least a job would have put me in other people’s lives regularly. Instead, I can stay at home if I want to – don’t have to leave the house if I don’t feel like it. So I’m trying to build in regular commitments:  lunch dates with friends, a Tuesday Bible Study group, a weekly school prayer group that I rarely miss. The neighborhood friendship and prayer group restarted – I’ve attended two out of three times.

And I’m contributing at home, which is easy to do since we’ve become empty nesters and only have one pet. This was much more difficult with two kids, two cats and a dog! I keep house, take care of errands and make the space a respite for my husband and me at the end of his work days.

I’m building my own personal growth by reading about writing and knitting a blanket for the living room (the largest yarn project I’ve ever undertaken). I’m finding both of these things fun and fulfilling, and they stretch me a little.

But some days, on days I chose to not go anywhere, I wonder if I’m doing enough. I know women who do way more than I do in a day, certainly in a week. Working moms especially! It’s easy to write blogs about what I should be doing, harder to follow through in real life. Am I just lazy? I don’t like to think so – I think it’s part of my mental health need to keep “space” in my life, to not do too much. Still I judge myself.

God’s Word says that Jesus has given us everything we need to live a life that pleases God by getting to know Jesus in increasing measure (2 Peter 1:3). Am I living in a way that pleases God? When I have my daily quiet time, when I start by focusing on who He is and when I commit my day to Him, I can trust that I am doing what He has called me to, and perhaps I don’t need to question these things.

It’s always about priorities and obedience – letting God put order to my hours and then doing what He wants me to each day. He wants me to take good care of my body, to get exercise, to reach out to others and share Him, to care for my family. I can remember to ask Him for motivation and self-discipline, and then obey Him when I see He’s given me the time to do it.

Day after Thanksgiving Gratitude

Thanksgiving Day 2015 was the first major holiday in 23+ years where the celebration was just me and my hubby. And it was a wonderful day.

Of course, I missed my kids and my extended family. And I am grateful beyond words for safe travels for my children as they drove to spend the day with a wonderful friend – she just took them in and added them to her holiday chaos and family and fun.  It was good to Facetime with the kiddos, but it will be better to see them in person in just a few weeks!

Yesterday morning I woke to the kitten’s antics – as always. Even when she has food, she seems to think that I only need 7 hours of sleep, so she starts our morning warm-up with nuzzles and purring and climbing on me and kneading her little claws into the back of my leg. I want to let my husband sleep in, so ok, I’m up!

I spent some quiet time with God, read through emails and blog posts and Facebook, had coffee, journaled a little. Our morning was pretty lazy – I read, blogged, knitted. We went to the pool and hung out for a bit. After having the pool area closed all summer, it’s so nice to have it open again, and to be able to relax in this place. I can’t believe this is in my neighborhood and not at some secluded spa!

lap and spa pool
lap and spa pools

I don’t write this to brag – it’s just that I love living in Florida – the warm weather and sunny skies bring me such pleasure! I get in the pool, the sun warming me, and lay back and look at fluffy clouds and palm trees in my periphery. Ahh! I feel so peaceful and content.

When we got hungry, we came back home and made a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. Surf and Turf with Key Lime Pie for dessert – couldn’t get less typical for us.

Surf and Turf Thanksgiving 2015

    Surf and Turf Thanksgiving 2015

We’ll save the ham and sweet potatoes and green bean casserole and pumpkin and apple pies for Christmas – it will be good to share family tradition with the kids again.  Maybe they’ll let us add the key lime pie to our holiday dinner routine!

We enjoyed the rest of the day outside on the lanai (back screened patio) and watched a TV series until bedtime. Overall, a very nice day.

I thank God for family. For my husband. For my children. For friends far (most of them) and near (a few new ones). For good food. For sunny and warm skies. For my physical and mental health. For mental health help – my therapists, my psychiatrists. For writing and blogging and for blogging friends. For freedom to worship God without fear of persecution. For devotionals and journals and nice pens. For my computer. For my kitten. For beach towels and pool noodles. For my home. For life.

How do you write?

How do you write – your blog posts, your journal entries, your papers for school or work? I’m curious about your process.

  1. Do you sit down every morning with the topic or a catch-phrase and put words on the page?
  2. Would you consider yourself a “disciplined” writer? I’m guessing for those of you who post every day, there must be some structure to it. Do you journal every day at the breakfast table? Do you draw up an outline for the paper you’re writing?
  3. Do you draft multiple pieces, writing as much as you can on whatever you’re thinking about at the time, and come back later to develop it?
  4. Do you walk around with potential topics, even particular wording, battling for space in your brain? (This is how it happens for me – part of it writes itself in my thoughts.)
  5. Do you jot down a title or theme, based on a passing comment from a friend or a clever phrase you read someplace?
  6. A different process completely? Tell me more!

There would be days and days in a row where I wrote in my journal. Then the next entry would start with, ” Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written. In the past few weeks, I …”

I remember learning to write term papers in middle school – multiple drafts, scribbled on the yellow paper with the two red vertical lines on the left and 33 blue horizontal lines across the page. I’d write furiously, scribble, draw circles and arrows where I wanted to move phrases around, cross out – no, keep! I remember learning the process: paragraphs I, II, III. Key points per paragraph A, B, C. Sub points 1), 2), 3). Depending how long or detailed the paper was, there could be a), b), c), all under the sub points. If I got really fancy, there was i), ii), iii). Whew! We were often required to turn in several drafts per paper, the teacher red-penning suggestions and corrections and handing them back for the next revision.

The night before the paper was due, I’d fall asleep to the clickety-clack of Daddy on the manual typewriter, somehow reading through all the scribble on my final draft, and typing it for me. He is a fast typist – click click click zoom! (Listen here. Thanks, youtube.) Of course, the day came when we had to type our papers. I got my own typewriter for my birthday – the cartridge kind, where I’d pop out the ink cartridge to put in the corrector cartridge, and then switch again. That machine worked into my college years. Way before the cut-and-paste of a paper written with a word processor. When did that start?

So I’ve been wondering for the past several days exactly what is rattling around in my brain, and how do I “put it on paper?”

Part of the thought battling to be written down comes from my efforts at answering all the questions required for a particular blogging award. Quite frankly, I’ve been paralyzed by it. I got all the way to the last section and have been unable to finish it. So it sits in my DRAFTS. I like what I’ve written so far, but if I can’t finish the requirements to the award, how do I continue?

I have a DRAFT that I began back in April. I was clicking along as I wrote, and I found a good stopping spot for the night (I seem to start writing down my thoughts at 10:15pm, when I should be crawling into bed, like now!). The next morning, just before I was ready to finish and publish, I got some news from dear friends that made my post seem so inadequate compared to the pain they were suffering. So I left it for the future, maybe.

I have a DRAFT that is actually an email I wrote to someone. I really like what I said, I just need to generalize it a little so it’s not directed at any one in particular but to the general readership of my blog.

I have a story from my past that I long to share here, so I have key memories of the event jotted down in a DRAFT.

When I wrote my first blog post, I couldn’t find the DRAFT button, and was terrified that I was going to accidentally PUBLISH too soon. As it is, I make so many corrections – spelling, punctuation, active voice – and I save the DRAFT so often, each piece has – like – 20+ “revisions.” But I learned the importance of the SAVE button when I lost one of my first posts – poof! it was gone!

My husband and I were on a walk the other night, and I was telling him about being stuck on a particular post. And he reminded me that I don’t have to finish it. He told me that my blog is mine to write – or not write – what I want. I get to decide what I want to share, what I hope others want to read. So if I don’t finish a post I’ve started, so what? That’s my choice, my freedom.

Oh yeah! When I’m experiencing depression, it’s hard for me to think outside of the rules, whatever those are that I’ve established for myself. I get set in my ways; it’s very hard to think outside the box; I need to cut myself some slack. (Insert any other idioms that may apply.)

So, this is today’s post. The DRAFT acceptance for the blogging award will sit in my DRAFT folder – maybe I can rework some of it to be a regular post. Maybe I’ll finish revising the email-turned-post DRAFT – I really like that one. Maybe enough time has passed that I can feel comfortable posting the DRAFT from April.

But for now, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on writing. If you want to, in the comments below, choose 1-6 above and tell me a little about how you write. I’d love to know.

PS – this post has 22 revisions!