I am so excited! I’m being interviewed today on Get Lost in a Story. Please stop by and enter my drawing for a set of rose-tipped pens. Hope to see you there.
In lieu of presents for Christmas 2012 my children each gave me five hours of labor. For weeks I stewed over the best way to use those precious hours. Then I asked myself this question: with empty-nestdom approaching, what could I do with that time to that would have the most impact on my new life. The answer was obvious.
Clean the attic.
Okay, that may not seem like an obvious win at first, but let me explain. The kids are leaving home. But they haven’t established permanent homes of their own yet. They live in shared spaces with an ever-changing parade of roommates. They want only what they need today, because like most college kids they live entirely in the present. That high school yearbook, those favorite novels and toys, mean nothing. When I talk about repurposing their old rooms, they say with absolute certainty, “I don’t care about that stuff anymore. Just throw it out.”
But one day they’ll settle down in homes of their own and they may feel differently. What then?
“Mom, I can’t believe you got rid of my baseball card collection!”
“Mom, how could you sell all my Legos? I wanted to pass those on to my kids.”
“Hey, Mom, whatever happened to my…”
You get the drift.
So I gathered my trio together and used my five hours of labor gift to clean the attic. Three van loads hauled off to the charity store and an embarrassing number of filled trash cans later, the attic was empty. What remained were five clearly labeled boxes per child of things I had a suspicion they might want again someday. We assigned each child their own corner of the attic. Finally, as insurance against any future exclamations of, “Oh Mom, you didn’t give that away, did you!” we made sure we had photo evidence of their presence during the process.
As time passes, hubby and I may eventually turn their rooms into a home gym, an office, or guest rooms. And we won’t need to wait for them to come and claim their stuff before we can do it. That stuff can simply join the stuff already in the appropriate attic corners. There it can sit, out of our way, patiently waiting for the day the kids have permanent homes of their own.
I can almost hear you thinking, “You’re delusional. That plan is doomed. Attics are catchalls and as time goes by those neatly labeled boxes in their separate corners will be lost beneath a jumble of new things added to storage.
Won’t happen. And I’ll tell you why. Next week.
In the meantime, do you find yourself storing things for people who no longer live with you and where do you put those things?
For Christmas 2012 I asked my kids not to buy me gifts. Instead, I asked each of them to give me five hours of labor. Two are in college so I knew money was tight which is why I thought that labor in lieu of a gift would be a good thing for them. They all agreed and I don’t know how good a thing it was for them but for me it was the best present ever!
For weeks before Christmas as I waited for the two oldest to come home from college, I plotted how I would use those five precious hours. While five hours times three kids sounds like a lot of time, when I started to divide it among all the things I wanted done, it began to look pretty puny. I admit I became a little obsessed about not wasting it, about making it really count. What should I use it on?
A family portrait? Yard work? Closet cleaning? Rearranging furniture? Cleaning blinds, windows, kitchen and bathroom cabinets? Detailing cars? Getting them to do their wills and healthcare power of attorneys? Attending a Christmas movie or play together? Getting them to pay attention while I teach them a few things I forgot to teach them before they reached young adulthood? (yeah, right, dream on mom) Cleaning out the garage? or, or, or…
The possibilities seemed endless. It was so hard to choose! I finally decided it needed to be something that would help me move into my quickly approaching new life as an empty-nester. And once I looked at it from that angle the answer became obvious.
So what did I choose? Find out in next Monday’s post. But here’s a hint. It was none of the things I mentioned above.
In the meantime, if you had a crew of three young, strong adults willing to labor for five hours apiece for you, what would you choose?
I no longer make New Year resolutions because I rarely kept them.
Instead, I decide on goals for the coming year and create a simple plan to achieve them. I don’t always reach my goals, but I do make real progress and have more success with goals than I ever had with resolutions.
I’ll spare you the sharing of my personal goals. But I will fling out my writing goals. We can check back next December to see how well I did. Here goes.
2013 Craft goal: Improve my self-editing skills.
My plan to achieve this goal is threefold: take an editing workshop, spend time each week with the Chicago Manual of Style, and read (or listen to) one book each month on writing and editing. I will conscientiously apply what I learn to my work.
2013 Business Goal: Raise my daily word count production to 2000 words.
My plan to achieve this goal is something I call the Ten Percent Solution (a hybrid of Tom Connellan’s 1% Solution and NaNoWriMo). I will begin each month by writing as much as I comfortably can that day and then add 10 percent to that count the next day. I will continue to add 10 percent to each previous day’s count until I am writing 2000 words a day. I will record my progress daily and I will report my total monthly word count at my chapter meetings.
So there are my 2013 writing goals. What goals do you have for the New Year?
Blood Marriage is now available on Amazon!
For a limited time it’s just 99 cents. Better still, those with an Amazon Prime membership can get it FREE from the Amazon lending library.
Don’t have a Kindle? No worries. You can still download it directly to a pc through the Amazon site. Just click on the book cover to your right.
Oh, and I’m doing a very short interview on the very talented Clover Autrey’s blog. Please drop by and say hi.
Finally, Finally. I’m definitely the tortoise rather than the hare, but… *doing the happy dance* Finally!
I homeschooled my kids (for the sheer joy of it!) K-8 and then sent them to public high school and college. One of the things I learned early on in my homeschooling days was, for sanity’s sake, not to try to school during the month of December. So we took it off and just did Christmas, which made life so much more pleasant – less stressed, less rushed and (here’s the biggie) less guilt-ridden.
As I transition from a life that’s a little less mother and a little more writer, I’m finding December hasn’t changed. Between the shopping and decorating, visits and visitors, parties and special events a whole lot less writing than I’d committed myself to is happening. So I’ve decided to take a lesson from my homeschooling days and let go of the guilt and just enjoy December for what it is – a rollicking, frolicking, month of happy chaos.
So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!
Enjoy! Because (for me at least) it’s back to work in January.
I ran across an old acquaintance recently, someone I hadn’t seen in years. We decided to share a meal and catch up. We talked of where our lives had taken us in the years we’d been out of touch. It was the usual stuff: jobs, houses, husbands, kids, etc. Being near the same age and both of us with empty-nestdom in sight, the talk finally turned from the past and the present to the future.
She shared what she was planning. A return to college for an advanced degree in her field and then a second career in the same field but with a different, more interesting slant. I said that sounded great.
Then I shared what I wanted to do with my post-child-rearing life: write novels! You would have thought I’d announced I wanted to don a mask and save Gotham City. Both with body language and with words she made it clear that becoming a professional writer at my age was a silly fantasy and that the most I could hope for was to write as a lovely time-fill hobby and maybe self-publish to give myself the illusion of success. Er, thanks.
Did it discourage me? Not really. But it did make me think about the people in my past and present who, without ever having read a word I’ve written and so with no basis from which to judge, judge anyway and try to get me to stop dreaming, stop striving, sit down, shut up, and act like everyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever found people like that appealing, but I have run across enough of them through the years. How about you? Have you had people try to derail your dreams? Not just your dreams of writing, but any dreams?
The late motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, said thinking in terms of time is a trap that allows us to be less and do less than we might otherwise. He suggested thinking in terms of “number of times remaining” instead because it adds urgency and gives perspective. His example: if you go fishing once a year and believe you’ll live 20 more years, don’t say “I have 20 years left to fish”, but rather say “I may only get to go fishing 20 more times.”
I like that approach. It encourages me to be more selective about my activities, and more present to the things I do choose to spend my time on, because my time here on earth is finite and valuable.
What about you, how do you spend your time and would you choose differently if you thought of time differently?
Happy Birthday to my youngest! She’s eighteen years old today. She’s grown into a beautiful, accomplished, intelligent, loving, generous, kind person and I am so impressed with her.
What a lucky mommy I am!
She’ll graduate from high school in May and will be attending the University of Texas in Austin in August. My nest will be empty then and I’ll miss her with every beat of my heart. But I am so happy and excited for her.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl!
A few years ago October to December was a mad rush to get it all done. Halloween meant working on costumes and creating a display of hay bales, pumpkins, and scarecrows in the front yard. It meant pumpkin patch hayrides, making trick or treat dates, carving jack o’lanterns, throwing parties, and making sure the kids ate a high protein meal before the candy-fest started. This year it meant texting the boys at college to remind them to have a safe Halloween and then spending a couple of hours answering the doorbell.
A few years ago Thanksgiving week meant traveling to grandmas’/aunts’/friend’s homes for one huge meal after another or hosting one at our home with all the trimmings. It meant hanging lights on the house in anticipation of flipping that switch on Thanksgiving night, and going tree hunting and/or Black Friday shopping the day after. This year it meant texting the boys at college to say have a great time at the football game and enjoy the tailgate.
A few years ago the month long run up to Christmas meant giving the house a good winter clean before decorating with abandon. It meant planning/wrapping/ shipping gifts, plotting grandparent visits, and baking pies. We were taking the kids to see Christmas movies, setting Santa-face candy bowls around the house, going to parties, and attending school and church festivities. I’d read short stories because there wasn’t time for novels and steal time to work on my annual Christmas jigsaw puzzle. It was exhausting. But oh, so wonderful!
Sadly, four of the six grandparents are gone now so there aren’t as many gifts to plan or visits to plot. Without the boys here to mess up the house that good winter clean isn’t as necessary or as satisfying. Without them here to help, the minimal decorating we do feels a little more like work and less like play. It’s just hubby and I at the Christmas movies and middle-aged spread has made setting out candy bowls a tad too dangerous. With no tots or teens regularly drifting by the table to hinder/help/tease, doing the jigsaw just isn’t the same.
But the kids will be home for Christmas. Even if only for a few days. And Mama is gonna decorate and bake pies and have a jigsaw in progress. Because at our house, that’s Christmas.
What are the holidays like for you?