What’s your excuse?

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Day 29 of 31. Woohoo! I’m almost done this daily blog challenge. I admit, it’s been fun and very…uh…challenging, to say the least. Finding time most days was easy, but there are a few instances when it seemed time got away and I didn’t get to write until late in the evening. But no matter what, I wrote every single day since January 26. Why? Because I wanted to. Finding a topic, however, every single day, was quite a task in itself.

During my morning devotions, I read a quote that prompted an idea for today’s blog post.

He that is good for making excuses
is seldom good for anything else.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Ouch!

Today, I want to talk about excuses. We all have them. We all make them. I’m sure we all believe they’re legitimate too.  

I can’t write because I don’t have time… I can’t afford to take creative writing classes… my family needs my attention… I work a full-time job outside the home…

Sounds familiar?

Hey, I’ve been there. I wrote my first novel — with pen and paper, between phone calls as a customer service rep. I then had to transcribe everything to my computer when I came home after my shift. Yet, I had over 50,000 words in 30 days. I know what it’s like to scramble. 

It’s easy to find all sorts of reasons why we can’t write. This thought-pattern stops us from moving forward. Instead of making excuses, shouldn’t we look for a way to get results?

On January 28, I wrote about making things happen. Finding time to write is not always easy, but personally, I think a lot of it is excuses. I’m not talking about setting your priorities aside. Precious time with family should always be number 1. And yes, there are meals to prepare, a house to clean, laundry to do. I get that. 

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What I’m talking about are things like some TV show(s) you say you have to watch every night. If you really want to write, can’t you use that hour or two (or more) to do so? (I say YOU because I rarely ever watch TV anymore. I can’t seem to find anything suitable for my liking). What about the computer where we (I’m guilty) spend way too much time scrolling through different social media apps? 

Pretend there’s a timer on those apps, and it starts the moment we opened it. A big number flashes on our screen when we X out. What does your timer say? Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT saying those apps are bad. They keep us connected with our family and friends (and many people we don’t even know who sent a friend request for whatever reason). 

Isn’t it time we get rid of excuses, and add writing to our to-do list? I did that some time ago. Some say I spend too much time on the computer. I tell them I prefer to do research for my next novel, or blog post. 

What’s your excuse? Please leave a comment below. 

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Only YOU can make it happen

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I love routine. Without it, nothing goes according to plan. When I ran a home daycare, I had five young children in my care. People asked how I did it. Routine. As long as we stuck to it, it worked. The kids were happy. So was I.

The same goes for writing. Only when I stick to a routine do things go smoothly. I’m fortunate to work from home. Most days, I write at leisure, unlike many who can only do so in their spare time because they don’t have the same privilege. Here’s what my day looks like.

My Monday to Friday three-hour ‘shift’ begins at 2:15 pm. I get up at 5:30 am, make breakfast for hubby, and see him off to work at 6:15. Then I enjoy quiet time with God. My favourite part of the day. Things aren’t the same without it. I sit in my recliner with a mango-orange smoothie, my Bible, and my prayer journal.  

Between 7:30 and 8:00 am, I check and reply to email before I start writing around 9:00. I take short breaks to stretch every so often and eat a light lunch around 12. I return to the computer until 2:00 pm. I take care of a little one until 5:00 or so. After supper and dishes, I’m back in here to continue where I left off. Between 9:00 and 10:00 pm, it’s downtime. I do a crossword puzzle, or read before turning in.  

Some of you may think I have it easy because I work from home. I didn’t always have that privilege. As badly as I wanted to write, I had to find the time. How did I do it? With great difficulty, but I.DID.IT. The question was: How badly did I want to write?

For years, I worked in a call centre. It’s there I penned my first novel. Yes, with pen and paper because I wasn’t allowed to use my tablet. I wrote between calls. When the ideas were flying, I took notes during my two 15-min breaks and often on my 30-min lunch, so I could expand on them when I had more time. My day didn’t end there, though. At night, I transcribed everything into a Word document. Double the work. Guess what…after 30 days, I had over 50,000 words. That’s right. Why did I put myself through that? Because I WANTED to write. 

If you are serious about writing, you will make time. You may need to get up an hour or so before everyone else. Do you ride the bus to and from work? You can make good use of it. Some, like I did, might choose to use their breaks. At the end of the day, for half or even a full hour, why not take advantage of the kids being in bed and hubby watching TV, to put the finishing touches on that scene you started earlier? If you really want this, ask yourself the same thing I did: How badly do you want to write? 

Remember this: Only YOU can make it happen. Leave a comment below. 

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Is There Ever A Good Time To Say Goodbye?

No! There’s never a good time to say goodbye. But around Christmas time? When everyone is getting ready to celebrate the birth of Christ?

Recently, we lost a dear friend to cancer. From the moment he was given 12 to 18 months, until the end, 4 1/2 years later, Terry lived each day to the fullest. At his funeral, knowing how I felt losing such a dear friend, I remember thinking how hard it must be for his family to lose their loved one so close to Christmastime. What I didn’t know was that our family would be in a similar situation just 2 1/2 weeks later.

Tuesday December 13, hubby and I were cleaning up the supper dishes when the phone rang. The voice at the other end was obviously very upset, and I didn’t understand a lot of what she said – let alone trying to figure out who she was – until I heard the words ‘Donald’s dead’.

What?!? was my first response. As she began speaking again, I recognized her as Laurie, my husband’s cousin.

Donald, my husband’s brother, was out hunting rabbit. Investigators, who ruled out foul play and suicide, would later tell us they believed Donald tripped and instinctively tried to steady himself. The gun went off, killing him instantly.

Like his brothers, and their father before them, my husband is an avid hunter; and this freak accident had me do a lot of thinking. First of all, I’m still in denial about Donald’s passing. I lost count how many times Tuesday evening, I prayed that this was a nightmare, that I would wake up and realize it was just that, a terrible dream. And woke, I did, several times through the night in fact, but it was still very real.

Right now, though, my heart goes out to my mother-in-law; I can’t imagine the thought of losing either of my children; as well it goes to my brother-in-law, Raymond, who found Donald. But more than anything, I ache deeply for my husband. I lost a brother too,  so I know the pain.

Perhaps it was the look of agony in my husband’s eyes when we first got the news that tears away at me. Perhaps it’s was the tears I knew he so wanted to shed but couldn’t. Perhaps, it’s not having the chance to say ‘I love you brother’, one more time… Whatever it was, it has me thinking.

– My brother died in a house fire. There was no time to say goodbye…
– 18 months later, my father died of sudden heart complications. There was no time to say goodbye…
– My father-in-law was scheduled for tests, but died suddenly the night before. There was no time to say goodbye…
– And now, Donald, a mere 200 yards from his mother’s house, and yet… no time to say goodbye.

The sudden passing of these people reminds me of the shortness of life. I penned these few words as they came to mind.

As you prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ
Think of the One who brought us hope and eternal life
Thank God for sending His Son to earth
Making His birth, His life, His death all it’s worth

As you fill the stockings with treats
And put presents under the tree
As you bake mom’s famous shortbread and pies
Cakes and the sweets and all your little heart desires

This Christmas, make time
Take that extra step
Go the extra mile
To enjoy the people in your life

There is no time like the present
Show them you care with a hug, a smile
Take the time to show
Let your loved ones know

Life is such an uncertainty. Live each day to its fullest. And tell someone you love them. Today.

May your Christmas be blessed And your New Year free of sorrow

Here are the words of a poem someone shared with me. The author is unknown but the words are so true.

If You’re Ever Going To Love Me

If you’re ever going to love me, love me now, while I can know,
All the sweet and tender feelings which from real affection flow.
Love me now, while I’m living; do not wait ’til I am gone
And chisel it in marble – warm love words on ice-cold stone.

If you’ve dear sweet thoughts about me, why not whisper them to me?
Don’t you know ‘twould make me happy and as glad as glad could be?
If you wait ’til I’m sleeping, never to waken here again,
There’ll be walls of earth between us and I couldn’t hear you then.

If you knew someone was thirsting for a drop of water sweet.
Would you be so slow to bring it? Would you step with laggard feet?
There are tender hearts all around us who are thirsting for our love;
Why withhold from them what nature makes them crave all else above?

I won’t need your kind caresses when the grass grows over my face;
I won’t crave your love or kisses in my last low resting place.
So, then, if you love me, if it’s just a little bit,
Let me know now while living; I can own and treasure it.