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Recharging the Old Batteries

Believe it or not, I’m not going to write about the upcoming Christmas holiday! I just returned from a writer’s retreat with three fabulous women. We ate (thanks, Susan), we drank (thanks, Laura B.), and we laughed (thanks, Laura A.). And we got some writing done.lake

I have to admit, I’m in a bit of a slump. Coming off my year-and-a-half break from fiction, I can’t seem to find my stride. But…I did get some words written, and more importantly, I had a great time with friends I hadn’t seen in way too long. Life’s about relationships, and I’m glad we took the time to spend together.

So here’s to making time with friends and catching your breath before the holiday madness. And to seventy degrees in December!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

 

Are You a Re-reader?

I LOVE rereading some of the books on my keeper shelf. Recently, I was amazed to discover during a conversation with a friend and avid reader that she never rereads books–even those she adored. “There are so many books,” my friend said, “why would I reread one I’ve already read?”Books

There are so many reasons!

  • I may have forgotten more about the book than the basic plot.
  • Sometimes, I may have forgotten the plot.
  • I may have forgotten what it was that made me love the book so much that I had to keep it.
  • Rereading a favorite book allows me to not rush through the chapters in search of ‘what happens next’ and enjoy the prose.
  • I discover new aspects of the book I never realized were there before.
  • If it’s a favorite author, I can plot his/her growth as an author.
  • Figuring out what I love about a book helps me become a better writer.
  • I can fall in love with the book all over again!

My friends still wasn’t convinced, but I hold firm in my enjoyment of rereading favorite books. What about you? Do you reread? If so, why? If not, why not?

All By Myself

I’ve been thinking about this quote from John C. Maxwell (I confess I had to look up John C. Maxwell when I first saw this image) as it relates to my life. I’m xxx_maxwell1happily married with two wonderful children who keep me on my toes and fill my life with unspeakable joy. I’m also a writer and as those of you who also pursue this rewarding/frustrating business can concur, it’s often a lonely way to make a living.

Dictionary.com defines lonely as solitary; without company; companionless. Yep, that pretty much sums up my writing life. I have other writing friends and I commiserate with them either online, on the phone, or in person. Those friendships keep me going, but in order for me to get words on the page, I have to spend hours alone. Some days when the words are flowing and I get an email from a reader, the loneliness subsides and gratefulness takes its place. I’m blessed to have the ability to work at home with a supportive family and flexible hours. But sometimes it feels like solitary confinement.

My current situation reminds me of when I quit work when my son was born. My husband and I made the decision to have me stay home and I was overjoyed to be with him all day, every day. It wasn’t long before all day, every day felt like a prison sentence. I went days without speaking to another adult. A grand outing was a trip to the grocery store. I’d phone my husband repeatedly asking,”When are you coming home?”

Just as I sought companionship as a new mother, I can now walk away from the computer and engage with others. I’ve spent the winter in three bible studies (two of which involve homework). I try to volunteer at school (sparingly). And I never miss one of my kids’ activities because I can’t get these years back. Could I pump out more books faster if I ignored my pangs of loneliness and chugged away at the computer? Absolutely. Would I be happy? No. Would the work suffer? Yes.

My point is that no matter your situation, don’t be afraid to join a group or take up a new hobby or step out of your comfort zone. Meet people. Learn something. Be open to new experiences. Life’s about the journey, and the journey always makes for a good story. If you have the time, I’d love to hear about your journey.

The End of Summer

For our family, this week is the official last week of summer. I frankly can’t believe it is August and the summer is almost over. It seems the older my kids get, the busier we are and the shorter summer becomes. While I’m ready to get back into some semblance of a routine, here are a few things I have enjoyed about this summer:

Snickers at Lake with Friends

Snickers at Lake with Friends

1. House full of kids. We’ve had an unusually high amount of sleepovers at our house this summer. From teenaged boys crashed in the basement after hours of ping-pong and video games to girls dancing overhead in my daughter’s room. I love that the kids gather at our house, even though it means I’m usually low on food and never seem to know what day of the week it is. I hope next summer is exactly the same.

2. A weeklong family vacation. We spent a week, just the four of us, in Colorado this summer. It’s not often that we go away just as a family and I love our time together. The kids get along because they don’t have anyone else to talk to. My kids count the years until we don’t have to do this again, while my husband and I tearfully count how few years are left of having the kids under our roof.

Hershey at Lake with Friends

Hershey at Lake with Friends

3. Group vacations. We took several multi-family vacations this year. From our baseball tournament in Florida to our week at the lake with friends and several weekend hops, we have spent a lot of time in the company of our dear friends. The kids enjoy traveling with friends and there’s nothing better than sharing memories with others.

I had hoped to get a lot of work accomplished this summer, but I can’t seem to finish a thought, much less a manuscript. I hope your summer has been as wonderful and not as hectic as mine. If you have a moment, I’d love to hear about your summer, too.

The Meaning of Tragedy

For those of you who’ve ever read my byline, you’d know I’m a bit of a news junkie. I wasn’t always such a nerd, but when the kids started school and I was at home for large chunks of the day by myself, I’d turn on the news just to have some noise in the house. I figured it was better than the soap operas I used to be addicted to in college.

So when I turned on the news first thing Friday morning, of course the Colorado massacre was all anyone was talking about. How could someone do something so horrible to so many innocent people? It was too much to process before my first hit of caffeine, and still impossible to believe three days later.

What that person did on Friday made me not want to go to the movies, or to a mall (although I hate the mall, so that wasn’t such a big deal), or to a restaurant, or anywhere with large groups of people. Isn’t it sad that we now have to think before we take our families to the movies! What I need to focus on instead of the danger lurking outside my door is the love of my family and friends. Life is precious, and short lived, and tragedy can strike when you’re least expecting it. I’ve had enough reminders of that lately and so have you, I’m sure, because life is messy and real and full of as much heartbreak as love.

So, as we see the faces of the victims and read about their lives cut tragically short, we need to remember to tell the people we love that we care about them. Hug your kids, call your parents, reach out to your friends. We can’t stop the crazy people of this world, but we can make sure we don’t have any regrets when it’s our time to go.

Thank you, readers of Women Unplugged, for reading—be it once or faithfully three times per week. Thank you, my Women Unplugged blog sisters, for making me laugh and think and occasionally shed a tear. Your cyber friendship means more to me than you know.

Now it’s your turn. Call a friend, send an email, give someone a hug. You’ll feel better for it.

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