NOW: NaBloPoMo’s Blog Topic for June

If you are a frequent reader here (and if not, why not? Subscribe now!), you may recall that I blogged everyday in the month of November. It was a lot of fun, kind of hectic, sometimes anxiety-producing, but also an effective exercise at growing me as a writer and a blogger.

I’ve decided to do it again (that’s a post every day in June, people) this month with the folks at NaBloPoMo (that stands for National Blog Posting Month). This time’s there no prize except my own super-sense of satisfaction.

A big influence in my deciding to participate was the topic for this month. It is “Now.” I absolutely love this topic. It really dovetails nicely with all my latest efforts at intentional living. It also ties in with my yet-to-be-posted part 2 of my observations on the Lost series finale.

Now. I soooo need to be living in the now. Here’s to June 2010. This moment in time.

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I Desire Only One Superhero Power

I think I’m really having some writer’s paralysis lately—not just writer’s block.

Some of it is busyness and end-of-year happenings. Some of it is still trying to play catch-up from flood-related stuff and having some survivor’s guilt (for some reason, I feel that our family really “dodged a bullet” and I’m not sure why I feel that way?) and feeling so overwhelmed at the pain around me, that I don’t know what to write about. Serious post ideas seem to only brush over the surface of the gravity of the situation; funny post ideas (can we find humor in this situation?) seem offensive. I have one blogger friend who has encouraged us writers that “now” is our time; time to give voice to this tragedy. I agree. Only I can’t get my voice together enough to type it out.

I think I’m also kind of wondering what in the world I have to say that anyone would care about anyway. In light of this tragedy, so much seems trivial and unnecessary. That’s all the more true as I think about my getting older and the glitz of worldly possessions and pursuits seems to fade and tarnish with each passing year.

As I think on these things, I am compelled to dig more deeply into the meaning of my life, your life, this life, our lives. But that requires work. And thought. And analysis.

I know it’s work I’ve got to do, but it’s just going to take a little while. So, stay tuned, if you’re curious to read more.

And so, as I’m fighting heavy eyelids tonight with a “to-do” list longer than my arm, I’m fantasizing about having only one superhero power.

I would love the ability to stay awake (and feel NORMAL) for about three consecutive days. During this time, I would like to get caught up on every chore, project, and “to-do” list item.

I want to do this once a month. A standing catch-up session appointment.

I’m pretty sure this superhero power would solve all my problems.

At least, my blog would thrive.

Going Where This Blogger Has Not Gone Before

Way back in 2001, I and a dear friend and awesome writer worked together on a dream of mine. We created a Christian women’s magazine.

I can’t remember exactly, but I think we wrote and edited five or six issues then put the magazine away. It turns out that writing, editing, laying out, designing, copying, distributing, and promoting a women’s magazine is really hard. Especially for one woman who had a full-time job outside the home (me) and the other who had a full-time job as mom at home (Jen).

It was also really expensive to do all of that on paper, so our church picked up printing and copying costs. But it eventually became cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. Jennifer had some more babies, and I became pregnant and had one kid and then three. And you know the rest of the story.

So, anyway, sometimes I sit around and think about “what could have been” had I heeded the suggestions of some who said, “You should do this online” or “You should send it out by email.” Hmmm. To think where the readership might be today—eight or nine years later—if we had carried on online.

I am reinspired, however, to pick up where we left off, in a sense. I am eager to give this “newsletter/magazine” format another go.

See that box to the right that says, Get My Newsletter! ? Well, go over there and sign up.

I promise not to bombard you with garbage. My goal is to give you fresh, relevant, and insightful articles no more than once a week, delivered to your email inbox. I’ll be honest: this is a bit of an experimentation on my part at this point, but I’ve got to start somewhere, right?

I would love it if you’d sign up for this little experiment and give me your feedback as it gets going. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Will you support me in this new endeavor and tell any interested friends, too?

Thanks!

image: Morgue File

Cutting Back, Living Intentionally, and Writing

You may recall that my new year’s resolution was to live intentionally.

So, what does that look like in my life?, I wondered.

Well, I know what it doesn’t look like.

It doesn’t look like worn-out, frazzled mom. It doesn’t look like worried mom juggling deadlines. It doesn’t look like fast food for every meal. It doesn’t look like the illusion of making money and “getting ahead” when, in actuality, the bank account is strained and debt continues to accrue. It doesn’t look like laundry and dish piles.

At least not for me. Not for us. Not for our family.

And so, I posted a plea for advice to you, my dear readers. You had great words of wisdom and encouragement. I felt good, at least, to know that I wasn’t completely crazy and alone, drowning in a sea of demands and deadlines.

Chris and I prayed, mulling over your words and ideas and re-evaluating our “intention” of intentional living in 2010 and decided that we were not, indeed, living with intention. We were being run by our circumstances. We were reacting, not proacting. We were slaves to the tyranny of the urgent demands of everyone and everything else besides those that were most important to us.

On March 15, I worked my last day at the most time-consuming of my four part-time jobs. I have all but closed shop on my Melaleuca “business” (although I am always happy to answer your questions and/or open a membership account for you—just ask). Our church is shutting its doors (another long story of emotional drain for our family—post forthcoming) at the end of the month, so I will no longer be employed there.

That leaves my writing.

I will always write. Writing for me is intuitive and effortless and cathartic. One of the negatives of these last few months is that I have not had the time I would have liked to devote to my writing.

Now I can devote my “free time” to my writing. Truly, I believe this is my gift from God. I feel that I’ve pushed all the other boundaries of my interests and skills. God has revealed to me that while I may be “OK” at many things, there are only a handful that are true gifts.

Writing. Writing here and at Faithful Bloggers and at Suite 101 is where you’ll find me now. I’ll be using my God-given skills for his glory.

If he chooses to bless us with money for that, then I rejoice. If he does not, then I rejoice!

I’ve decided that I will be intentional about living as he’s guiding me. The fact is that he’s placed certain circumstances in my life, which dictate his will for me.

He has called me to be Chris’ wife and all that that entails. He has called me to be mom to my three kids and all that that entails. He has called me to manage this home with the income that he has provided and all that that entails.  And he has called me to write. He has called me to write—since I could string together subjects and verbs in the first grade—for his glory and others’ edification.

OK, God. Show me my next steps. God, you promise that when you require something of your children, you equip them with the grace to accomplish it. I believe it, Lord.

I am intentionally and deliberately believing it.

Image: cohdra at morguefile.com

I’m Going to Whine Now

Typically, I don’t like to post whiney-tale ramblings.

But, hey, I’m in a funk and I have a blog.

And if I can’t whine on my blog, then why have a blog, right?

So, if this is a problem for you, then you can click off my post and come back tomorrow.

I hope you’ll stay, though, and help me. Help me, readers.

Help me figure out my life. 

I’m really overwhelmed right now, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

I know that I have no margins in my life. I first heard about the concept of margin several years ago.

Think of the margins on a piece of paper. That’s the “extra” space that can be used if needed or in an emergency. A place for spill-over. White space that is pleasing to the eye and a soft place to land.

Nope. I have none of that in my life.

(I’m going to get this book, ASAP, by the way. I’ve heard other friends talk about it. It’s been on my to-read list, but I’ve procrastinated. But, I’m going to get it soon. Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small commission for purchases referred to Amazon.)

My life runs from sun-up to sun-down with far more to do than there is time for.

FlyLady wants me to do my routines. Yea, I have no time for routines. Because as routine as routines go, they Still. Take. Time.

Exercising and grocery shopping and cleaning toilets all take time. Fifteen minutes here, an hour there, thirty minutes there. Time.

I need a lot of sleep. Like 8-9 hours to feel really good. But, hey, that takes time. I can either cut corners on my sleep and be grouchy and grumpy and less productive or I can feel guilty about going to bed when there is still so much left undone. (I know that’s crazy. But that’s me.)

All my little part-time jobs are wonderful blessings, and we truly need the money. We count on each little $100 or $200 check to make ends meet each month. So, which $200 check do I forfeit so that I don’t feel guilty when I go to sleep?  In the meantime, which meal/activity/chore is neglected so that I can finish a work assignment?

Blogging and writing are the only things I do for fun. Period. I don’t read. Magazines and books sit untouched on my nightstand. I haven’t scrapbooked since July 2007. That’s terribly sad, but seriously, how in the world can I justify sitting around sticking pictures into books when I have a to-do list as long as my arm? Plus, scrapbooking would require my downloading, sorting, and actually printing pictures. I don’t even want to think about how much time that would take.

Do I stop blogging? Do I stop writing for fun?

Do I shrivel up to nothing because I have no outlet for creativity?

I could go on and on. I know you know that I have laundry, meals, activities, Bible study, and church. I know you know what it’s like to juggle and prioritize.

Am I the most insanely organizationally-challenged person in the world? Or is this just “part of it” and I need to grin and bear it until retirement? 

What should I do? How do I take some of the pressure off? Which ball(s) to drop?

At what point do we simply step out in faith, do away with things that drain us, and trust God to provide compensation (whether emotional, financial, spiritual)?

Truly, I’d love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for me and my family.

Thank you. Whining over.

Image: Morgue File

Intentional Blogging in 2010

A few days ago, I posted my personal New Year’s Resolutions for 2010. I wrote that I had a lot of “little” goals but that my overarching goal was to create an “umbrella” of living with INTENTION this year.

The Savvy Blogging gals have issued a challenge for bloggers to create our blogging goals for 2010. So, I’m taking their challenge and posting my goals at Savvy Blogging.

I believe the act of giving my blogging a list of goals is INTENTIONAL, which is exactly where I want to be in this area of my life.

I am a writer and I have dreamed of being a paid writer for as long as I can remember. I see my blog as a natural extension of my profession. I would love for my blog to become a “syndicated column” of sorts: a place where a dedicated “several” check in. I want my blog to be a place of inspiration, encouragement, and thought-provoking entertainment.

My Blogging Goals for 2010

Audience: I want to increase and broaden my readership. It’s not just getting MORE readers, but it’s also finding those readers who need what I have.

Posting: I want to increase my posting frequency to at least 5 days/week.

Content focus: This is still a work in progress. I’m trying to become more focused with my content. My posts vary among funny mom stories, theological and political observations, recipes and homemaking tips. Sharpening my focus is terribly difficult for me because I have so many interests.

Design: I’m in the process of getting a customized blog design. I’m hoping the aesthetic will help crystallize some of these other ideas for me.

Income: I would like to continue to grow the income from my blog. I am paid to write, and I don’t see why my blog would be any different. But increasing the income means that I will need to more deliberately treat my blog as a business. I have decided I will do one “business building” activity each day, whether it’s finding new PR relationships or learning more about SEO. I will press myself to leave my comfort zone so that I can grow.

(In February, I’m attending my first blogging conference, Blissdom. I am so excited I can’t stand it! I anticipate having a revised list of goals after this conference.)

What would you like to read more of and about at The Writer’s Block? 
I’d love to hear feedback from you, dear reader. 

I Am a New-Year’s-Resolutions Kind of Girl

I like the tradition and practice of making New Year’s Resolutions. I know a lot of people don’t bother, saying they never keep them anyway.

And OK, I know I’ve started the “read through the Bible in a year” routine more times than I can count only to abandon it around mid-February.

But this year, I’m going to approach this whole resolution thing in a different way. I have one resolution, which I hope will serve as an umbrella to everything else in my life. That one resolution can be summed up in one word:

Intention. 

I resolve to live with intention.

This week, I managed to finally—FINALLY!—get my “office” set up. This involved moving and rearranging furniture and cleaning out old papers. It was way overdue. But in the process of thumbing through old receipts and grocery lists and recipes and wrapping paper scraps (really??? I kept all of that stuff???), I realized something important.

I had failed to live with intention.

The pile of paper was a tangible result of living in reaction and in the tyranny of the urgent.

So, maybe some of it was inevitable. I am, after all, in a season of life that sucks every drip of energy out of me.

But getting rid of all of that paper was so liberating. It geared me up to live with intention.

My goals for this year involve pursuing a closer walk with God, improving my health/losing weight, and growing my blogging and writing endeavors.

But those things must be attacked from a posture of intention.

Intentionality also assumes a sense of priority. I say that my faith, my health, and my writing are important to me. But I have not always prioritized them and made an intentional effort to work at them.

Above all, the older I get, the more I realize how big God is and how small I am. I am confronted by his strength made perfect in my weakness. I am more convinced that my primary purpose—whether I’m on an elliptical machine, posting to my blog, or cleaning out my desk—is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about living out God’s purpose for me in 2010 and beyond.

~~~

I added this post at The Happy Housewife and at Steph in the City. Visit and read some more 2010 resolutions. 

Reflections on 2009 and The Last Decade

Goodbye, 2009. Hello, 2010.

First, a few reflections on the last decade:

Ten years ago, I was less than a year into an editorial position at a Nashville publishing house. Little did I realize that job would directly and indirectly lead to my success at becoming a paid writer (something I’ve dreamed of since elementary school). Truly, that position was from God and all the steps since then have been orchestrated by him.

Chris and I were still living in our small apartment in Green Hills and loving. every. minute. of. it. We have such sweet memories of our home there. We had a new dog and were thinking of buying our first home. Having kids was still distant on our desire list but a consideration, nonetheless.
I’ve been in my thirties for this decade. They have far surpassed my twenties. This decade:

  • We’ve moved twice and owned two homes. 
  • We’ve had three children.
  • I’ve been published in a national magazine and been paid for my writing. 
  • I’ve gained and lost hundreds of pounds total with pregnancies and Weight Watchers.
  • Interestingly, we’ve been at the same church for the entire decade. The membership of believers in that congregation has more than sustained us through the ups and downs of stressful jobs and parenting. Weekly, our faith is nurtured. I’m so glad to see the benefits of the consistency of our relationship with Christ. 
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And now, for my year in review through the words of my blog:

This is my 114th post for 2009. I exceeded my posts for 2008 but didn’t quite double my post numbers.

In January, I’d had enough of the school car hook-up line and vented about it. We got a new member of the family, while Susanna’s theological prowess increased.

My kitchen appliances and I did not get along well in February, and my twins began the fine art of manipulation.

March, April, and May were hectic and busy, and I didn’t blog much at all. We had birthdays to celebrate and yard sales to organize and ear infections to diagnose.

In June, I wrote about my struggles with beautiful and perfect-looking moms in the preschool parking lot. I still have people mention that post to me. I was reprimanded at the library, further proving my point that our branch library is the armpit of Bellevue. 

The first mention of my awareness that I’ll be 40 soon came in July. I got a lot of comments on Facebook when I wrote about why we tell our kids the anatomical names of their private parts.

During the last few months of the year, my blogging picked up. I became interested in writing more, building an audience, and using my blog for an expressive, creative outlet (not just as a family scrapbook of sorts). In August, I wrote about Miley Cyrus and her disappointing display at the Teen Choice Awards.

I evaluated my summer and brought justice to a decades-old unfair situation in September. But, the most important event of that month was by far my being de-friended, blocked, and kicked out of a cyber community. That type of response can only mean one thing, I reasoned: that I had finally arrived as a writer.

In October, I began my TULIP Tuesday postings on Calvinism and delivered a confession that surprised some of you. 

It was November before I posted my ideas about Christians and Halloween (because that’s the way I roll; I still haven’t mailed my Christmas cards). I had a real celebrity sighting, shared some sweet time with my daughter, and participated in NaBloPoMo (I posted every day of the month and still have a hard time believing I actually pulled it off).

In December, I had my first guest post and I realized my boys have finally reached a new level of maturity. December started with bad news but also with abiding hope. It ended with my shopping with Mavis and Daryl at Wal-Mart.

Thanks for reading The Writer’s Block in 2009. Your reading, commenting, and participation are appreciated and make the blogging experience that much more dynamic for me.

Balancing the Demands of a Busy Friday

As I continue with my commitment to post every day for NaBloPoMo (oh, my gracious, when will this month be over???), I’m faced tonight with nothing.

Well, very little, at least.

I have a few ideas rattling around in my head, but they require work to compose. You know. Research and thought and wordsmithing (is that a word?), and well–I just can’t muster that up tonight.

So, I think I’m just going to brain-dump, a la, my diary circa 1985, which would give you whiplash just trying to keep up with all the characters and goings-on.

***

Today was nutty. I have a deadline to meet for writing a unit for Bible Lessons for Youth. It was due today. But I didn’t get it turned in today. Monday, people. Monday. I will finish it this weekend.

(And I say that here in this public forum for my own accountability.)

***

After I deposited the boys at school, I scurried to the church office to work on the books (I pay bills and balance the account–one of my four part-time jobs) and get a financial report to our officers. Then it dawns on me that:

  1. I haven’t eaten a thing.
  2. I am starving.
  3. I have a headache that feels like someone is sawing my neck at the base of my head.
  4. I have to get a book order form to Sus’ school TODAY.
  5. I have to leave for a hair appointment in 15 minutes because I look like Shaggy.

Like crazy, I rush home and change for my appointment. I decide to go through McDonald’s drive-thru (true confession time here) for a bite to eat. I gobble down 600 mg of ibuprofen and a Coke (more caffeine).

My headache eases and the appointment is enjoyable. I have just enough time to jet back across town to school and drop the envelope, then pick up the boys, then go back to school to join the pick-up line.

Whew!

I hate days like that, but also?

I’m secretly proud of my multitasking, multischeduling, most-efficient use of my time.

Some days, I really confuse myself.

***

Random parenting tip: If your child wakes screaming/crying with leg cramps, give the child ibuprofen. Get the child up into your lap to snuggle or rock. Rub the leg. Lightly cover the child in bed and/or turn on a fan to make sure the child is not too hot.

All of our kids have these from time to time, and this always works. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s going on. I can almost time it–about 10 minutes after the medicine, the child is visibly more comfortable and can rest.

Half-way There

So, today is my fifteenth day of blogging. Consecutively. That’s every day in a row.

I’m at the half-way mark for the month of November.

Taking the challenge to post every day in November for NaBloPoMo has been interesting. So far, I’ve noticed:

  • I’ve stayed on track to put something on my blog every day. Even if it was late or something not scheduled. I’m really excited that so far, I’ve stuck with it.
  • I have actually blogged when I otherwise (if not taking part in the challenge) would not have.
  • I think the commitment to blog everyday has forced me to become more creative, if that makes sense. So, the parameter of the challenge has actually contributed to my creativity, which is cool. (I guess artists do need some type of structure in which to work.)
  • I don’t have a sense as to reader expectations this month. I don’t see a leap in my visitors for each day nor increased comments. Not sure if my readers are refreshing my blog page every two minutes to see if the day’s post is up yet or not. (You aren’t, are you? Because if you are, you better leave a comment and let me know how you just can’t live without updates from The Writer’s Block.)

We’ll see what the last half of the month brings.