Coffee Klatch

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

The key to developing a successful writing career is developing the habit of sitting down to write every day even when you don’t feel like it. I have been trying to do that. Some days, my brain feels like wood and I can’t seem to make myself do it. Some days, I have a long day of teaching and I can’t seem to find the time. Every week, though, no matter how I did on my goals the previous week, I vow to begin anew. Last week, I wanted to write four blog posts but only did two. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t do, I need to start focusing on what I did do. I sat down and wrote two blog posts. I also finished my character profiles for my latest novel. Maybe, I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but I did accomplish those things. This is the third Monday in a row that I have written my Coffee Klatch post.

This week, I will continue to squeeze out time to write. I will sit down to write even when I don’t feel like it. I will remember that every day is a new beginning and each day I will begin again.

Coffee Klatch

Since I finished the 50,000 word challenge in November, I have been having trouble posting on my blog. It was so easy to finish a chapter and post it that I got out of the habit of finding new ideas to write about for my blog. I have been told that I need some sort of content calendar to keep my blog alive and commit me to writing regularly. I discovered that people write blog posts tagged #weekendcoffeeshare. Many of them are posted on Mondays and talk about the writer’s previous week and week-end. While I’m not a coffee-drinker, I wouldn’t mind a little metaphorical coffee and a chance for some conversation. I am working on a couple of goals in my life and need some accountability. The #weekendcoffeeshare would give me a weekly forum to write about my progress and my challenges while creating a laid-back and relaxing vibe of a simple conversation.

For the past couple of months, I realized that I have let myself be consumed by work. When I sit down at my computer, I am not getting ready to write or blog, but am focused solely and lesson planning and grading. I realized that I need to find some sort of balance so that I am not working all the time or avoiding work all the time. I need to give myself time to write and relax as well as to work. One of the first things I am doing to begin building this balance in my life is to put self-care first. I tend to put off exercising and eating right. Today, I got up and exercised first thing. Yesterday, I committed to eating healthy and planned a grocery list that would support this goal. Lately, I have been grabbing whatever is easiest or most convenient and this is taking a toll on my health. I am also focusing on eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Even though I need to lose weight, I am focusing on taking care of myself rather than dieting.

The next goal I have is to resume writing every day and making time for writing. Usually, I sit down at the computer and begin working on my lesson plans and grading right away. When I finally have time to write, I am often too tired. Today, I made time for my writing first. It seems that no matter how long I spend grading I am never caught up. I am caught in a vicious cycle that I need to break out of. By making time for the things I want to do every day, I will have more energy for the things I have to do every day.

Next week, we’ll see how I do. Thanks for having coffee with me. I’ll see you next Monday!

Taking a Knee

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

As football season begins anew, we are again focused on the players “taking a knee” during the national anthem. President Trump tweeted this week-end that football players who kneel during the anthem should be thrown off the field. In May, the NFL said all players who did not wish to stand for the anthem could remain in the locker room without consequence.

As I watched this debate last season and last week, it seems to me that everyone, but the NFL players, have forgotten that the First Amendment of the Constitution grants the players freedom of expression and the right to petition their government. By taking a knee, during the anthem, they are petitioning their government to take notice of an issue about which they feel strongly. That is their right as citizens of the United States.

While the NFL and Trump worry about ratings, they have forgotten one of the cornerstones of our country’s values–the right to free speech. When they take a knee, the players are peacefully drawing attention to their issue and asking to be heard. They are not interfering with the game and they are doing the job they are paid to do when they are on the field.

According to the NFL and Trump, football ratings are down. They attribute this to the players taking a knee. If this is true, then the viewers are also exercising their right to express their perspective by turning off the game. Again, this is their right as citizens of the United States. If the NFL decides to institute a policy that limits their players’ right to protest, it would be in violation of the players’ rights–and the Constitution. People might argue that the players are employees and have to follow the policies of their employers. Employers’ policies, however, cannot supersede the rights granted by the Constitution.

No matter the issue, we need to support the rights of other citizens to protest. If we allow the president and the NFL to limit the rights of players, we have opened the door to limiting our rights as well.

Regret

 

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

At 52 years old, I think a lot about the past. Things that I could have done differently. What if I had pursued psychology instead of teaching? What if I had focused on my writing instead of putting it off?

When I find myself starting to regret the past that is gone, I stop myself and focus on today. The choices I have made for myself have shaped who I am today and the life I have. While I am not always happy with how things are, I have a lot of things in my life for which I am grateful.

Watching my son grow up reminds me of all the possibilities that still await me. In his eyes, all things are new. When I experience things through his perspective, I remember that I still have something to offer the world and the world still holds promise for me.

I have a job teaching community college that I love. When I catch myself dwelling on losing my job teaching middle school or not being able to find another one, I remember that I am valued at the college where I teach. After leaving for a semester, they welcomed me back with open arms. That’s much more than any of the public schools I worked for ever did.

My husband and I don’t always see eye to eye. When I am frustrated with him, I remind myself that he has been my partner for over half my life. We are very different people, but we meet our challenges together.

Sometimes, I beat myself up for not writing. I don’t always blog or work on my novel, but writing is always a part of my life. When I have a problem, I always write about it. It has been the one constant in my life. I have been writing since the third grade. Even if I never get published, I will always be a writer.

Regret can sap my energy and my hope. It’s like a sweet poison. It is so easy to slip into the past and rewrite my life, but when I slip away, I miss the blessings that are right in front of me.

 

Things I’ve Learned

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

  1. A good dog can complete your family; a bad dog can ruin your day.
  2. You can’t spend your life pleasing everyone.
  3. The world won’t end if you stand up for yourself.
  4. I am just fine as I am.
  5. Anxiety is a waste of time.
  6. Nothing is set in stone; everything changes.
  7. Pursue your dreams right now. There is never a perfect time to follow your passion.
  8. It’s all right to make a mistake; I don’t have to be perfect all the time.
  9. It’s all right to put my needs first.
  10. The most difficult tasks are easier if I break them down into manageable chunks.
  11. Watching a child grow up is like reading a good novel. There’s a lot of plot twists and turns, but you end up with an amazing story.
  12. Sometimes, you need to fail in order to succeed.
  13. Don’t worry what anyone thinks.
  14. The only way to be a writer is to write.
  15. Ideas are everywhere.

The Day I Became a Writer

In the third grade, I discovered that the books I loved to read were written by actual people. I am not sure where I thought books and stories came from before I discovered this, but it was an important moment for me. I remember standing by Mrs. Hill, my third grade teacher, as she created a bulletin board. I asked her what the bulletin board was for and she told me we were going to publish our stories. She told me that all the books I read were written by people just like me. I was astounded. She also told me I was going to write and publish my very own book.

Image result for yellow legal padThe day she posted my book on the bulletin board was the first day I considered myself to be a writer. My first story was about a bird who had lost its family. I designed the cover for my book and made my book in the shape of a bird. After school, I went home and told my mom I wanted to be a writer. She immediately bought me a large yellow legal pad and some sharp new pencils, and I began writing.

Over the years, I have filled up spiral notebooks, binders, and bound journals with my writing. My writing has gotten me through tough times–when I was stuck in dead-end jobs with no way out, when I lost teaching jobs, when I was sad or depressed. At times, I have stopped writing, but no matter how long I stay away from writing, I always come back to it.

When I write, I can express ideas that I am sometimes afraid to say out loud. I can be me without the fear of judgment or criticism. I can tell stories, state my opinions, and explore new ideas. Writing makes me happy and inspires me to improve.

Whenever I think about giving up writing because I am discouraged or it feels too hard, I think back to Mrs. Hill and the day I became a writer, and I realize that writing isn’t just something I do. It’s a part of who I am.