Category: priorities (page 1 of 3)

I though I knew what Busy was

Once upon a time I was a high school student with a full load of challenging classes and a job and family responsibilities and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was a college student with a full load of challenging classes and a job and no social life to speak of and plenty of food to cook and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was a young mom with four little kids running in at least seventeen directions and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was serving in a Relief Society presidency/Young Women presidency/Primary presidency in my church along with all the wonderful family things, and I thought I was busy.

Then I got a full time teaching job. And kept most of my other things. And I was pretty busy, and I learned how to be okay with sandwiches or pancakes for dinner (because, after all, sandwiches might be my love language, and pancakes are undoubtedly Kid 3’s) and a clean-ish home, and significantly less awesomeness in pretty much every aspect of my life: I still do all the things, I just don’t do any of them very well.

I miss naps. Wait. How did I take naps back in the day if I were so busy?

I miss small kids on my lap for story time. Wait. I had time to read books out loud back then when I was so busy?

I miss making bread. (Blessing: our congregation meets at 1:00 on Sundays now. Huzzah! Bread last Sunday! Cinnamon rolls the week before!)

I miss writing whenever I feel like it. Instead of its being a casual fling, I have to make time for the writing. We have to make a date with a beginning and ending minute. I have to get SERIOUS about this. And do you know what? I think it’s making me like it more. I have more respect for this thing that requires careful planning. And I have to think that’s a good development. It requires me to be grown up about it. As if, perhaps, this were a job. Which – well, they’re paying me, right?

I am in a place of perspective today that allows me to recognize the probability that I don’t know what busy is. And that it’s likely to arrive someday on my doorstep. And I want to be able to embrace it – that thing that life may bring me – wholeheartedly and generously. And I want to keep pressing forward with the other important things. And to do them better, more graciously, more gratefully.

Breaks

I love my Christmas vacation! (Look! An Exclamation Mark! Many Marks!) I have my whole little family home, and we do a lot of relaxing, some eating, some visiting, some movies, some reading (we all got books for Christmas, natch), some laughing, some playing, and some of us (totally not me) even get to do some skiing.

I also have been doing the writing. I have this goal that I’ve been meeting for a whole week now about writing 1000 words a day. Once that was my normal. Once I did that every day. In less than an hour. Then I got a job and an increased blood pressure and a fear of failure all at once, and I sort of cut away at all the things that Didn’t Matter So Much. Writing my 1000 words a day fell by the way. The blood pressure normalized, and I realized that – although I missed it – writing was not essential to my life. Then. I’ve kind of decided that I want it to be essential to my life again.

Here are some things I’ve noticed: * Writing 1000 words is not hard if you have something to say. Dialog can go on for pages and pages and pages, if there’s subtext and romance and sadness. If, however, you’re trying to describe getting a heavy box into a locked house, it can take a really long time to make those sentences stick to the page. Because WHO CARES is why.

* Seeing the word count grow at the bottom of a document is a total rush for word nerds like me. Total rush. RRRUUUSSSHHH. (Don’t you hate how that doesn’t really say a word anymore?) It’s kind of like the feeling when the numbers go down on a scale, but the opposite in direction and SO FAST.

* I don’t need this story to be a book. I have arrived at the place where I’m writing for the sake of writing. If I manage to make this a Real Story, and it lives to see itself Revised and makes it through Edits and I like it well enough to Submit, it still may not be a Book. And that is totally okay with me. I’m having fun with Greta and Will and Mac and Marigold and Julie the Librarian.

* This is a story that I’ve been pecking at for a long, long time (that’s calendar pages long, not consistent fingers-on-keys long), and it’s fun to see how things change in that time. Characters have grown depth and flaws and dimensions. Some things I’ve been certain my main character wouldn’t do (because they’re stupid) I’m letting her do (because they make good Story). It’s easier to teach that than to actually let it happen.

* Rejection still hurts my ability to create, even though I’m old. I have to deliberately focus on the fun of creating, the joy of drafting, and not consider how it might feel if this manuscript goes the way of the last one. Even though I’ve decide to write for the gift of it, sometimes my brain slips backward into the muck of disappointment (in myself, in bad communication, in frustrating relationships) and it’s hard to write my way through it.

* One thing that seems to help is to write the Vomit Draft. Maybe Real Writers (you know the ones – they have OUTLINES) don’t need to vomit out scene after scene, but I need to allow myself to do just that. It’s an act of discovery. I am throwing up words here, and I am okay with that. Today, this month, this year it’s okay to write words that won’t stay. Once (or maybe over and over) I told writer class attendees that Writers Block is nothing more than the fear of being less than awesome. I don’t have that fear any more, because OF COURSE THE FIRST DRAFT IS GOING TO BE LESS THAN AWESOME. That’s why God invented Revision. So I don’t have to feel blocked, because it so doesn’t matter (today) what I write, as long as I write. This will not always be the case. But I’ll embrace it today.

I’m loving this Christmas break, and the huge amount of family time it’s bringing. I’m enjoying the gift of writing time (and I really, really hope I can be a champ about it when I have to get up at 5:00 to do it) and the gift of watching my manuscript grow and the gift of seeing my characters become Something. Maybe I needed a break from daily writing to recognize that I really like it. Not like I like Breathing, necessarily, but maybe the way I like something else that’s good, like popcorn or snowshoeing or reading novels.

I hope the things you love are the things that fill your days as we stride toward the finish line of this good year.

Noted

I know. Life is happening.
And I want you to know that I’ve noticed
That even though you’re managing to do all the things
You have to do, that you’re not doing any of them
Particularly well.

I’ve noticed, and everyone else has noticed, too.

And we’re all surviving the fact.

These 242 words are the most you’ve typed in
A Very Long TIme.

We’ve noticed that collectively, your sophomores
Get a great deal of time and attention,
Even though personally, they’d benefit from
Some kind of time-twisting that would allow you to
Really (deeply) communicate with each of them.
Wanting to is a start, but honestly? Not a huge one.

Your house is straightened, though dingy,
And clothes are generally clean,
For which you are allowed to feel generally
Satisfied.

We’ve all noticed that dinners are, well, lame
And there’s a startling lack of fresh leafy greens
(And variety).
But, hey, salad and variety are overrated
And nobody’s starving around here.

Noted: You hugged EVERY SINGLE ONE
Of your family members last night before you slept.
You  bought the best kind of fruit snacks
Which makes up for some other parts of Lame Bagged Lunch.
You read the assigned book instead of skimming it for the
Nebulous answers Professor Doctor Former Runningback
Is searching for.

We’ve all noticed that it’s not glorious.
And it’s still okay. Carry on. We’ll keep noticing
The parts that work
And working on the parts that don’t.

Trying Something New (Surprised?)

Is anyone interested in trying a little thing with me? I’m at the knife-edge of my wits these days (I know that is in no way hard to believe) and I actually think that if I manage to squeeze in 30 minutes of writing time I may increase the will to go on. (I’m not suicidal. I don’t need an intervention. Just a nap and possibly a wife, but that’s a post for another day.)

Here’s the thing. I have 2 half-done manuscripts that require way more than I can give them right now, time-wise and emotional-investment-wise. SO instead, I’m going to try the thing my husband has been doing since July: A story a day. It can be a really short thing (ala Hemingway’s famous short story: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”) or a longer thing, or a fragment of a thing, but I want to write from my guts without worrying that it’s not increasing my word count or manuscript output. Anyone want to get in on this with me? A practical flexing of the muscles, as it were. (And I promise to never say “as it were” again.)
It’s sort of “Romancing the Words” — a no-commitment, rediscover-the-joy, dive in and splash around in the puddles of creation activity. Starting now. Ending at the end of the month if you’re one of those NaNoWriMo pros, carrying on longer if you’re like me and unable to commit to 50,000 words in a month.
As far as craziness like planning goes, I’m not actually doing any. But I did think that I could try a few genre-based experiments: One day, write something funny, or sad, or scary. Another day, historical. Or, dialog-only. Setting based, fantastical, child-focused, nonfiction, like that.
So now that I’m putting this onto the internet, I’m all in. Write on.

First Day; Also Karma

I go to work in about 90 minutes. It’s District Training this week, and there are things. Things to worry for. Not very many. But still. A list.

Things to be Nervous About

1. What am I wearing?

2. My hair. It’s notorious for not cooperating.

3. Do I bring lunch? Will they let me go home and eat with my family? Do I really need food between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm? (Answer: Duh.)

4. The school-issued laptop. Guys, it’s not going to be a Mac. What if I can’t figure out how to turn it on? Or send an email? Or link to a printer? Or access YouTube?

5. My room is not cute. Not in the slightest.

Things Not to be Nervous About

1. Student issues. No kids till next Tuesday.

2. Forgetting my phone. I did that in my dream, so I figure I’m covered.

3. Locker combo / taking a final I didn’t go to class for / forgetting to wear pants. (Am I the only one who still has these dreams, decades after I finished taking classes in school?)

4. Making friends. I’m about a million times more confident than I ever was as a kid on the first day of anything. Plus, I already know people. So, there’s that.

5. My room is not cute. Not in the slightest. And I think I don’t care.

Things to Deal With

1. I really need to write my Disclosure Document. I put it off because I had to finish my online English class (which went fine, thank you) and now I really need to get it handled. And copied. And stuff.

2. Lesson plans… like that.

3. At some point in the next week, I need to build a teacher web page. With information attached. And guess who knows about building a teacher web page? (*sound of crickets chirping*)

4. Bring one copy at a time of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS to the school. I bought several, since I’m confident they’ll get stolen, even when I write “I STOLE THIS BOOK FROM WILHITE’S SHELVES” along the edge of the pages opposite the spine.

5. Remember that my room is not cute? Perhaps I should give them SOMETHING to look at when they tire of looking at me. (I took in 2 plants. I hope they survive. I’m not actually good at raising plants. My Kids are fine, though, if you were wondering.)

Ideas I Just Had

1. There’s only one. And it involves YOU solving my recurring issue #5. How about you send me your favorite (10th-grade-appropriate) quotes FROM or ABOUT books and reading, and I’ll print them out and put them on my walls? Because IDEAS for CUTENESS. Many great quotes = good Karma for the week. Come on, you know you could use it.

Do you ever think?

I know you do. I meant, do you ever think you could do something amazing? Like… do you ever think you could, with your very own small life, write a memoir that someone would READ? Do you ever think that — years from now, when you’re gone — someone will think of you? Do you ever think that right this second, someone out there is thinking only about you? Do you ever think you really, really matter? Well, amigos, I hope you do. Because it’s true.

You matter. I matter. The guy over there shoveling a sidewalk (while the snow is still falling) matters, and what he’s doing — even if it looks needless and futile and ridiculous — that matters, too. The people who write internet comedy that keeps my kids up too late, falling over each others’ laps laughing? Those people matter to me. The girl who sent a fan letter this week? She matters. And so many more people. every day.

So that’s what my Big Plan is for 2013. (I resist the idea of resolutions. I’m irresolute by nature, you see. so I have to get around it all in my own way.) But my Big Plan is to say it out loud — to tell someone, every day, that what they’ve done, that who they are, matters to me. In person. Virtually. In a letter or a note or out loud. People I know, strangers, people who change me.

Want to join me? (It can only end well, you know.)

Annnnd, it’s been another week!

Hi, kids. I’m still here. Life is happening. And we love life when it happens.

Les Miserables opened at my Kids’ high school last night.

Look! She screams!

Remember that my Kid 1 played Eponine, the world’s best role for a teenage girl?[1] It was awesome. (Unless you didn’t wanted to hear the orchestra director counting through his microphone, or unless you minded the 7-year-old kid running full-voice commentary in the seat behind me: “IS SHE DEAD? DID HE JUST SHOOT THAT KID? IS THAT HIS REAL HAIR? DID SHE DIE, TOO?” or unless you wanted all the actors’ mics to work all the time, or unless you noticed many technical thingies which did NOT include my Kid 1’s mic being turned on for all but one of her entrances, hooray.) It was lovely and stirring and heart-touching. Kid 1’s Uncle A said, “I have never shed a tear at a high school musical before today.” And she was pleased by that. And he was not the only one teary, by a long, long shot.

Bring me home...

Her Uncle N and Aunt C brought flowers from Grandma and Grandpa who can’t make it, and they were beautiful. So were the flowers. And Aunt C told Kid 1 she didn’t actually buy the “boy costume” bit, because Kid 1 was just too pretty. [1.5]

Considering the rival football game happening 20 minutes away, there was a pretty good crowd. And considering that I only managed to oversell about 10 premier seats [2] and anger 6 patrons, it was a glad crowd. 

I got to teach lots of days this week. Including a day in Kid 3’s sixth grade class. I love Kid 3’s sixth grade class. And here’s one tiny reason why: She has a small part in the above-mentioned show: she plays Little Eponine, who doesn’t have a line and sands on stage in a”little blue hat” for about 30 seconds. She couldn’t possibly be more thrilled. [3] As I was standing in the lobby before the show, 3 of her classmates ran over and gave hugs and said how happy they were to come and see her debut. And then I saw more of them, with parents, who came, too. Maybe there were more who I didn’t see. But Izzy and Kenadee and Wyatt and Claire and Abe, you guys are awesome.

There is more life happening. Stay tuned and stuff.

[1] Whatever. Any girl. I’d take the role in a single heartbeat. If only.

[1.5] Eponine dresses as a boy to deliver the letter written by the boy she loves to the girl he loves. Just go see it, okay?

[2] I’m Box Office Mama and the buck, as they say, stops here.

[3] I was working the box office one day this afternoon while they were rehearsing, and Kid 3 came to slide a mini Kit-Kat through the window. I asked her where she got it. “Pretty much the whole cast thinks I’m adorable, and they keep giving me candy,” she said with a shrug. Life is SO good.

Also, as a note, all these kids have had their parents sign an image release, so I’m all legal to post their photos. So here are some more.

Fantine dreamed a dream

The light. Is so good. So very, very good.

Another? Oh, all right then.

Weekend Update

I feel like Dennis Miller. Remember Weekend Update on SNL — back in the day before I was too old to either stay awake for or enjoy the humor thereof? Yeah. Me, too.

I picked our winners for TELL ME WHO I AM. They are Janna and Brittany. (It was random. Kid 2 did the picking. From a pile of paper cutouts. They just so happen to both be CA girls. Whom I love. Lucky that way.)

Prom. It happened, and it was good (for the Kid, you understand. I don’t want to make it sound like I was actually there… although I did get a look at all the juniors, and a few of the other kids). Kid 1 was lovely. See?

 

Her cousin D said, “She’s a *real* princess.” Well played, D. Well played.

I can’t explain the headless one. I tried to crop. Nor can I explain why there are 2 copies of the other shot. Except that it’s my favorite. I don’t know photos. Clearly my talents lie elsewhere… I hope. So the way I saw everyone in the junior class: It’s like this. Their high school has this tradition of a Promenade (which sounds kind of like, duh, but I don’t know how many schools do them) and the junior class parades out of this backdrop thingie, one couple at a time, and they’re introduced, and their parents are named (a Requirement in this town), and then the couples do a choreographed dance. When all the participating juniors have done so, there’s a daddy-daughter dance, and after that, the moms come down and dance with their sons. It was fun — kind of a princess-themed fashion show. And the whispers and the oohs and aahs. And the muttering about the one girl whose dress cost $x,xxx, really. (And everyone, EVERYONE, I tell you, seemed to know this. As though it had been advertised or something.) And the poor girl who vomited in the garbage can, not really out of sight of anyone. And the poor friend who stood beside her and received something that was not thanks. All over the skirt of her dress. (Hello, story material!) (But only because it was not MY Kid.) And the couple of boys who looked like their dates had gone all kung-fu on them, but really one kneed himself in the face in a trampoline-house situation and the other got several eyebrow stitches as the result of a ninja move in an epic game of Capture the Flag. And the seniors and the sophomores and even the freshmen who came to watch, all dolled up and lovely. This little valley has some really beautiful kids in it. Many of Kid 1’s friends came to visit  me in the gym (did I mention that this took place in the basketball gym? It did.) (I was conveniently located), and I was again glad that they are good people. And even though we probably could have found other things to do that evening, it was fun to see Husband dance with his baby girl. And also this: The Prom Queen is the cutest junior class girl… with Down’s Syndrome. She wore a knee-length tulle confection in shades of purple with light-up tennis shoes. She was precious. And props to the committee and all the voters for that outcome.

I would like to know: Are you a napper or a non-napper?

We can still be friends if you’re a non. But don’t come over here on a Sunday afternoon expecting to be entertained. Just saying. It was REALLY quiet here yesterday. Ahh.

And. My friend Steph is in the running for a really good prize with her video-story/confession of maternal ickiness. Check it here, and push the orange thumbs-up button to give her a vote. (You don’t even have to watch it. But it’s pretty darn funny, I tell you.)

The writing is going well. I’m filling up pages with words. That, for the moment, is a measure of success.

So, how was YOUR weekend?