Self-Assessment

This and next week, I’m taking lots of online classes. A Facebook writer’s group I belong to, Write Without The Fight, has a series this week that will help us blast through those times we just can’t write. There are lots of theories why we “get” Writer’s Block. I might agree we’re procrastinating; and it’s usually out of fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not writing well, not being liked, etc. stops a lot of people. By my point in life, that doesn’t matter anymore. 

Our questions were twofold; What kind of creative thinker are you?; and what kind of thinker are you? “What,” you say? I say it depends on what I’m doing. Why?

As a retired systems analyst, I received calls to Mutual of Omaha in the middle of the night. There would be a problem over a program ending abnormally. I had to be a divergent thinker (full of ideas). We needed to think fast; get the program going again. I can go back home to sleep.

Working on something I’m unfamiliar with, I had to be a slower thinker. Assessing what the program was doing. And why. Looking where we might make a change. Then test the results before having Operations do their thing.

I’d do some convergent analysis. Work at a slow pace. Think things through. I took a few perfect places to insert the fix. I needed to get home. The kids needed to get up for school. I would get ready to go back to work, in full business work attire – showered, suit, pantyhose, blouse tucked in, hair and makeup done. One memorable night, I went to bed at 11:30 p.m.; they called me at midnight; I went to the office and returned home at 6 a.m. Short night for sure.

As a “retiree,” and now an author, a woman who created her own publishing company, her own daily blog, and soon to release a children’s book, I use my brain in creative endeavors, until it comes to the business part of my life. Then, well, it’s all business.

I can’t wait to hear about today’s class, at 2 p.m.; Name the Unnameable. Thy name is Writer’s Block? My personality kind of shuns the trendy things, writer’s block being one thing I sort of doubt. What keeps me from writing? Time, most of the time. And chronic pain, when I just can’t sit in my office chair anymore. Oh, I can go to the recliner. It’s not isolated from everyone (the dogs, the Babe), and what they’re doing.

I write better when I’m at my seat, feeling the creative vibes of my studio/office. It’s my safe place for sure. Just like the old Beach Boys song, “In My Room.” Being the only girl, I had my own room. My sanctuary. My hurts were left at the door, and I’d enter a world where I drew, designing clothes, wrote plays for my girlfriend Karen and I to act out, and wished all the stuff teenage girls wished.

Now, in the Home Office, my quilting studio, my writing and business office, I dream, design quilts and stories, and get ready to tell the world my stories. There’s always a story. Make yours a good one. I will, too. Thanks for reading today; time to go pick up groceries. The fridge looks like one in a single guy’s apartment. Bare! See you tomorrow!

Creative Souls

While having morning coffee and thinking about my meeting with Cartney McGuigan yesterday, I recalled part of our conversation where she was explaining to me how she does her art. She told me her brain just takes off, and it happens. That’s exactly how it is in my creative zone. Since I do several things besides write, and I know exactly what she means. We couldn’t explain it with words. I know what she’s trying to say. You can’t explain it. But someone else can understand it. So cool, isn’t it? I had such a good time connecting with her over our book. More fun to come!

I have enough information for planning my creative endeavors for the year. I can now make a loose plan for every month. I believe I’ll start at the end and go backwards from there. I need to schedule some “play” too. Before I started writing, I joined a quilters group determined to “bust UFO’s.” Unfinished Objects (quilting projects, to be exact). The idea is, we make a random list of twelve projects we haven’t finished. You see creative minds just kind of wander sometimes. Some say Adult ADHD causes that. I’m not sure of that. 

I could do a UFO sheet for embroidery, quilting, clothing construction, painting, and reading many of the books I want to read. I pray I still have my vision and ability to move both hands. I could still do the things I love to do. Mom’s vision diminished terribly with her strokes, and I see what a struggle that is for her. It’s awful.

So along with eating better, (I’ve lost 25 pounds since October 2020), I’m making a commitment to my creativity by managing my time and projects better. I’ll get more accomplished every day. I will make a dent in my UFO pile. More book ideas are floating in my head. I need to make some notes about. It’s how my brain works. I’m just going to work with it, not fight it.

I absolutely LOVE the Michael Strahan quote above. He is one of the most positive people on earth. I admire how he’s lived his life, devoted to his kids. Not a lot of famous people are. It goes back to how his parents raised their family. He’s continuing that tradition with his family. Great to see. Anyway, one of my imaginary ideas is to have him interview me for GMA when my books are selling like hotcakes! Great idea, eh?

As I’m preparing to do our taxes today and tomorrow, that is the ONLY look backwards I’m taking. I get to deduct a lot this year for my writing expenses. Right now, it’s still considered a hobby, so it’s ok to do that. I’ll be doing a lot of sorting papers, but that allows for your mind to wander. Good ideas can happen then. I look forward to it.

Stay warm if you’re in Nebraska’s deep freeze. It’s terrible. We are going to a Valentines dinner and dance at the Post, but it’s so cold I think staying home sounds better! (Not really, it’ll be nice). Be Safe out there. Wear your masks. Watch out for black ice, too. It can get you even while walking. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you tomorrow!

Winning Wednesday

So much to create, so little time. Do you feel this way? Not just about writing, but crafting and creating together. Unfortunately, I have interest in a lot of creative endeavors. I sewed my own clothes for many years. To dress like the job I wanted, I tailored my own suits for nearly my entire working career. As I progressed in salary, I did purchase them, but still sewed for myself. I’ve probably also made about 40 bridesmaids dresses, and two wedding dresses. I loved doing it all.

Then, after I could no longer work at the age of 48 due to my wacky spine condition, I went on Medicare at age 50. And straight into depression. I felt washed up and useless. I was used to being very physically active, and just couldn’t anymore. Over the next 18 years, I had breast cancer, two foot surgeries, a badly broken ankle (all on the left foot!), and been through the Babe’s extensive visits/procedures thanks to the US Government’s use of Agent Orange during his tropical visit to Vietnam, and thanked God every single thing has eventually turned out well.

The new passion I had for quilting and creating ended the depression, I needed the creative outlet to feel like I was worth something. It worked. And even now, when I start to feel less than great for a period of time, all I need to do is make a quilt, a wall hanging, something, to bring me joy again. There is a sense of accomplishment I receive from that. It’s cheaper than meds or therapy and does the trick. The quilters I’ve met both in person and in Facebook Groups are the best people I know outside of longtime friends I have. Generous, creative, supportive, sharing, and willing to teach and learn. Good stuff.

So, I signed up to make this cute little picture for my laundry room. It needs something on the walls. If anyone would like to sign up, go to the above FB posting. It’s $10. Three one hour sessions teach the techniques. It runs August 2, 4, and 6 and the time zones are posted worldwide. 6:30 p.m., CDT. The project is called “Laundry Day.” The Website is: and it appears there is a waitlist for the class now. The project I’m making is pictured on the right side of the website page.

No, I don’t need more to do. I have plenty to do. I just want something to spark my creativity. So, something different is in order. The idea is to use vintage patterns, fabric, trims, buttons, etc., and you’ll recall some memories and good people from your treasures. I need to do this. A scrap of lace trim my Grandma Bobell crocheted or tatted, a button from Aunt Lois’s sewing treasures, and some fabric that was used long ago. It’ll make me smile, and enhance creativity, too. And calm my restlessness.

Any minute now, the Babe will return home with Gavin. We’re having sliders for lunch today, it should be good. After that, I’ll work a little on my quilt, and more on my additional characters for Katie to deal with in “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons,” my novel. Little bits, and I’ll accomplish a lot.

Thank you for reading today. I hope you are well. I just found out today my COVID test is negative. That’s great news. I’ll see you here again tomorrow. Be careful out there.

Wise Wednesday

It’s a nice day in Gretna, Nebraska. It is sunny, with a few fluffy clouds here and there. Normally, this would be a fantastic, beautiful day. I cannot say that since the wind is pre-Hurricane force. And in Nebraska, that’s damned windy! Late yesterday, I tried to sit out on the patio, and with that wind, I was cold! I got an afghan off the pile that my wonderful mother-in-law Liz Raabe made for Dan over the years. She made so many for so many people. She’s been gone six years now, I think, and we miss her a lot. She always had a happy attitude. Sure, she had days, we all do. She always was happy to see everybody, and no matter what, made you feel as if you were the most important person on the planet when she talked with you. Liz, thank you for raising such a wonderful man. The Babe has your big heart. We’re lucky to have each other.

I’m feeling a little bit “off” today. It might be we ate take out tacos from a place near home. I’m not used to eating anything that’s fried, especially for the last month or so. My innards feel all twisted up. So, lots of tea today, probably a lot of resting.

The Babe is making a little fence to keep Miss Goldie out of my flower bed by the patio. He hopes to finish it today. I am so impressed by how he cuts here and there, mixes a little instant concrete up, and voila! A fenceline. He is awesome. Glad he’s getting back to his shed. He had it built when we moved here, as a place to keep everything and work where he won’t get the mess in the house. A Man Cave/Cabin/Shed, whatever! As a shed warming gift, our friend(s) Lenny (and Kris) gave him his very own radio/CD Player. He plays the radio, mostly. After his adventures with ischemic heart disease the last two years (stroke, endarterectomy, wound vac, etc.) he’s been a little adrift trying to get back into living again. He’s finally there!

It feels good to complete a project, whatever it is. I’ve decided since I’m doing a hedgehog themed picture for our newest grandson Cody, he really needs to have a quilt to go with it. I sent a cow painting (like from Hobby Lobby) for Kayla’s room, and found the fun paper pieced cow quilt as the finishing touch. It was so fun to make, and every day when I stopped for the day, I just sat and laughed at how funny the cow was. Had the perfect piece of fabric in my stash for the back, too. It was a furry cowhide.

What are you reading today?
Where are you going today?
What kind of story are you part of now?

I’m reading several different things, some for research, some for pleasure, some to make me laugh, some to learn, some to see how other authors do it. Goodreads App probably wants to give up on me. I have about 15 books going at once. Some, I’ve lost interest in, some were too sad at the time I was reading them (like any book where the dog dies. I’m a mess when that happens), and one I thought was written by a man who hated women (his descriptions were archaic, almost chauvinistic).

I have only abandoned four books in the past ten years. One was, “Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl,” (Really a SteamPunk type of world, sent it to my daughter,) “Wouldn’t It Be Nice: My Own Story” by Brian Wilson, (It was so sad about his mental illness and the mis-treatment he went through, a lot of this was repetitive), “I am Malala,” (Story of her fight is incredible, but over half of it was repetitive and very politically slanted,) and “Miriam’s Healing,” (I gave it away before we moved).

I adore this little mouse in the picture above. Some of my most favorite books are children’s books. I have a ton of them from Addison and Gavin. I think they’ll come in handy for Kayla and Cody. Kayla loves to read, I’m so glad! Her Mama and Daddy read to her all the time. She’ll probably be pretty smart, as they both are, too. Hope we can go visit when this pandemic is over. Really over.

If you have ever wanted to read something funny yet truly happened, pick up a Bill Bryson book. He wrote the book which the movie, “A Walk in the Woods,” was based on. The movie starred Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. Nolte was perfect for this part. He should have had an Oscar nomination for it. Redford is always good, no matter what. He wanted Paul Newman to be in the movie (instead of Nolte), but Newman told him he knew he couldn’t handle the terrain of the Appalachian Trails, where the movie takes place. That would have been the BEST! Nolte was fantastic, nonetheless.

The first half of the book was the movie. The second half of the book caused me to howl out loud because the writing was that good at describing things. Another Bryson book I loved was “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.” It’s available on Amazon. Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. Anyone who grew up in the 50s or 60s will relate to all of this story. It’s a beauty, read it, you’ll be amazed at how good it makes you feel.

We can all use this as our motto, our daily goal, our mantra.

I’m grateful for your time today. I’m going back to work on my chapters from yesterday. I’ve split up one long one, moved another one away from where it was, and am seeing there may be a huge critical point that could see resolution, far away from where this journey started a year ago. Yes, I started to write the book a year ago. It doesn’t resemble its former self, but that’s a good thing. I believe it has more appeal to more people, more ages, and certain groups of readers. It’s kinda cool when the author isn’t sure of where they will end up in their own story. The process leads you there. I’m amazed at how it works. I hope to see you tomorrow. Come on back!

Two Within Twenty Four Hours

With last night’s late blog, and my starting much earlier this morning, you’ll be getting 4 chances to register within a twenty four hour period. Take advantage of it while you can! You can comment here, at the end, scroll way past the ending, and you’ll see a box for “Leave a Comment.” That is where you can comment.

I must share with you the photo Tracy took of Gavin with us last night. He was so happy we were at his concert. He must be deep in thought because he said, “I’m so lucky to have you two for grandparents,” and said that the last time we were together. Of course, some naysayers will say, “He’s just sucking up for Christmas gifts!”

I beg to differ with you. Isn’t that a nice phrase? Rather than becoming uncivil with a comment, one may choose to “Beg to differ.” And there were no hurt feelings or name calling involved. Let’s try and think “Beg to differ” instead of “Those stupid Republicans,” or “Those damned Democrats!” Let’s be above name calling and be civil.

Anyway, while begging to differ with you, I say I do believe some kids really do realize when they are lucky. And it doesn’t have to do with material things, they can actually feel the love someone gives them. And they appreciate it. And kids are honest, they will tell you what they believe. I love their honesty. It’s so pure.

So, call me crazy, I know Gavin meant what he said. He wasn’t schmoozing.

Gavin after his “The Giving Tree” program last night.

I’m still thinking about the message from the tree decorations my mom bought yesterday and the fact I’m getting a new Christmas tree for home this year, AND the fact that Gavin’s program was about The Giving Tree. I do believe there is a message there for me. I believe it’s telling me something about Christmas, giving, and the past. Maybe like Marley (In The Christmas Carol) I’m weighted down by something in the past about Christmases. Maybe I’m not giving as much of myself where I should be doing so. Maybe the best thing I can give myself is a different outlook on things.

One thing I want to do is concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas. It has nothing to do with Black Friday (I honestly do not know when that became a thing!), with last minute bottom lines, how much money businesses make this shopping season, and with who wins the next debate. Those things don’t warm my soul or make me feel good.

So what is it I should do?? Be generous with the Red Kettles I see at shopping centers.

Be willing to help someone out. I am finishing a project for someone who is unable to. I will make time to finish their project for them. In keeping my word to another human being, I am helping others a lot.

Learn to graciously say, “I just can’t do this.” No explanation. Sometimes you need to know when to turn things down that you can’t possibly do and still function well. The wisdom to know the difference is worth our weight in gold.

There is a great deal of wisdom existing in the world, and I think some comes from out of the mouths of children. Their innocence is unbelievable at times, yet they can be wise beyond their years. Many little children are exposed to things they never should be.

When my oldest son was in kindergarten, a classmate came over to play. They played house within sight of me. I heard the little girl give a detailed explanation of a scenario. “You didn’t come home from work, and I went out with my friends to a movie, dinner, and drinks. You got mad I wasn’t home and I’m not going to tell you where I was.” This was really way too old for a kindergartener. I don’t like how it makes me feel at my age right now!

Sometimes, I wonder what happened to this little girl. She was a good kid but came from a really dysfunctional family. Alcoholism in spades, generational and it was severe. A lot of us had difficulties in our childhoods, and may still be shaking off the past. This year is the time to find out how to shed it for all time. The rest of our life doesn’t have to be how the first part was, especially if it was bad. It was there to shape us and teach us what to do or not do.

In the next week, many people will be gathering for their Thanksgiving dinners and “Thanksmas” and whatever else may be scheduled. Some will be happy gatherings, some may not. Whichever yours is, be sure you stop and think about what you have to be thankful for. Sometimes, it is hard to think of things. Just remember that there is good everywhere. We just need to look for it. There have been times in life when things have gone so wrong that I was thankful for the fact my car started. Period. Presently, my life is so abundantly blessed it’s hard to find things that are so wrong they will ruin my day.

Today, I’m grateful for Gavin, Joell, Addison and Kayla. They’re the best grandkids I could ever hope for. I’m grateful for a man like Dan who encourages me to be myself. It’s a relationship that is perfect for me. I’m grateful that my children grew into good grownups, and that they are independent in their lives. All mothers probably wish they could see their grown kids more often, I am no exception.

I’m so grateful that we have the home and environment we have. It’s a very contented, happy place. Our two dogs add considerably to it.

Think of what you are thankful for. Really think. You may even surprise yourself. Leave a comment on these things. Give us a like and you are on your way to chances to win the $50 Visa Gift Card. It will be given away on December 01, 2019, drawing will be at NOON. Thank you for reading, and please, come back tomorrow!

Messy Characters and More

After attending the Nebraska Writers Guild Fall Conference, I arrived home with a renewed sense of purpose, charged to jump headfirst into NaNoWriMo, and easily finish my novel with 50,000 words that all made sense with each other, and simply breeze into the sunset come November 30, 2019, with a deep sense of accomplishment about the novel being close to finished.

Today is November 17. I’m running behind with the number of words per day, but it’s still in the realm of completing. I could have some fantastic days coming up after doing some more research about what I’m missing in the first 40,000 words. It’ll come, I know it will.

I came across a mysterious Post It note in pink, that had scribbled diagonally across it,

“Chuck Windig – Messy Characters.” I’m assuming that was an author and book that I really needed to seek out to get answers on how to keep going, and make sure the characters are completely fleshed out.

I’m completely wrong about what is written there. Why can’t I remember why this is so important to my destiny? My story? My characters? Googling proved I spelled Mr. Windig’s name wrong. It is really Chuck Wendig, and he is a science fiction writer. Not my genre, but ok. Why did I make this note?? Could it be because he is not only a writer but a blogger as well?? His blog is TerribleMinds. If you Google his blog and go back to November 1, 2019, (Not now, when you’re finished with reading mine, silly!) he discusses two things. Writing a novel is hard, because it’s supposed to be hard. Writing a novel is hard, because it has to be done your way. Wow. This blog hadn’t yet been written when I jotted this down. And now, I’m finding something that is speaking volumes to me.

How did this happen?? Is it yet another sign that I really do have a story to tell?? Yes, yes it is. I cannot waver and say, “Well, I’m not sure,” because I have to be sure. I have to be sure this is very hard, it will probably get much harder before it gets easier, and I haven’t even begun to see hard work yet. And I have to be mentally ready for it.

It is hard. It is hard because I have a story I want to tell. It will be a story realistic in as much as I haven’t sanitized anything, left uncomfortable parts out, or failed to tell the complete truth about a situation because I didn’t want to have to explain where that idea came from. It’s coming from life. It’s coming from observations from life for a period of sixty seven years. That’s a long time, really. And to find each and every just right word to tell that story is hard. Somedays it flows, somedays it’s clogged up worse than an old septic tank. (That’s all I could come up with folks, sorry!)

The days you can coax the words and they flow endlessly are the days your energy level goes through the roof and you feel great. Nine out of ten times, this one day of brilliance is followed by one to ten of clogged up words, gelling together to make a tremendous mess if they ever are broken apart and allowed to flow, unfettered, into the great beyond. Lots of cleanup is required after that, and usually, it all goes in the sewer. Sorry, that’s the fact, the reality of writing. Not as glamorous as it sounds. And I haven’t even gotten near the hard part yet.

So now that I discovered how a note to look Mr. Wendig up ended with my finding him giving me some great advice that he hadn’t written yet when I jotted his name down, I will say good day for now and go on to writing more on my book. After all, I have been told it will be hard because it’s my own. And it will be.

Thank you so much for reading today. Make sure to comment in the blog and like to have your name entered in my NaNoWriMo Giveaway. I will draw on December 1, 2019 to give away a $50 Visa Gift Card. Comment, like blogs and you can have two entries a day! That makes 60 free chances in all, just for reading, commenting, and liking. Easy enough.