Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dear Younger Me

Today's Think Write Thursday comes with my last apology for not blogging more frequently. My reality is that it's a challenge to get my novel-writing/revising done, and that writing has to take precedence over all other. So I'm going to own the infrequency of my blog posts.

Anyway, today's topic is to give advice to my five year-old self, my sixteen year-old self, my twenty-one year-old self and  my now self.

Here goes:

5: Hey cutie, enjoy your childhood years. They are fleeting. Already you are beginning to be a writer. Keep singing, making up your songs and stories. Get Mom to write them down or give you a tape recorder (yes, a tape recorder!) so you can remember them. Some of your work is actually pretty good and you'll also want to track your progress.

16: Get over your shyness, hon; it's holding you back. You're as everything as anybody else. Let your personality shine through; it's bigger than you think. Don't let the words and actions of others define you. They put other people down out of a need to feel better about themselves.

21: Academics are important but they're not the only thing. Now that you and your high school friends have pretty much gone your separate ways (at least for the present), you need to build new relationships. Don't hide from people by burrowing your nose in books, assignments and studying. I know you want to do well, but get out more and enjoy life. It's happening all around you.

Now: You've been through a lot since you were 21. Made some mistakes and some good decisions too. This is a challenging stage - sandwiched as you are between young adult children and an aging parent - it's important to find the balance. Re-read that book on self-care and apply some of its strategies. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Keep up those massage appointments, your book club, and meals out with friends; keep reading and writing. Keep eating healthfully and try to get more exercise. Hopefully you've got a lot of years left in you; make them the best they can be.

Dear reader, what would you say to your younger self?

Friday, 10 March 2017

Five-Minute Friday: Abandon



Walking the time tightrope
Friends, I am attempting not to abandon the blogging side of this website. But it’s a fact that time is a precious commodity when you’re working part-time, have a home to run, a family to care for, etc. You all know that from your own lives, I’m sure, and perhaps you have the added burden of working full-time.

So, while I have been writing lately, I’ve been trying to revise the novel I’ve been working on for quite some time. I have stacks of paper in a couple of bedroom drawers that provide feedback from my writers’ group and I’d like to be able to use that space for storage other than paper. I’m pleased with my progress this week, but you may feel I’m not meeting my obligation to my readers here and that I’ve abandoned you.

You’re important to me, of course. Without a readership there is still a point in writing (it’s a big part of who I am and I can’t imagine myself without it), but I do write for you as well as for myself.

I hope you will be patient with me as I try to find the work-life-writing balance that best serves both of us.

Be blessed.
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Today's post is brought to you by the word 'abandon.' If you would like to participate in Five-Minute Fridays, please visit http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/ to find out more.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Five-Minute Friday: Flash Fiction


Apologies for not posting more regularly; I'm trying to focus on my novel, but between working and trying to maintain my home, it's a challenge.

Today's Five-minute Friday prompt is "purpose." I've determined to use these prompts to write some flash fiction to get the creative juices flowing. Here's today's result:


At twenty-one, Bethany was still trying to figure out her purpose in life. What was she meant to do? Who was she to become? Her thoughts were scattered on this. The years in high school, heavily influenced by her teachers and peers, had left her confused. What had seemed so plain as a child and through her early growing-up years had faded and died a slow death. What was truth? There seemed to be your truth and my truth, but no absolute truth. Was this right, or was this a great lie perpetrated by the masses who didn’t really want to know what the truth was? If there was no truth, could there be any real purpose beyond doing what you wanted, what felt good, what was out there? YOLO, right? You only live once. Why not live it up? But that left her feeling so empty at the end of the day. It felt like there was something missing, some great hole in her life. There had to be something beyond this, didn’t there? Bethany was determined to figure out what that was, even if she had to put her actual life on hold to do it. She’d heard that if you seek the truth, you will find it, and the truth would set you free. She wanted to be free. Oh, how badly she wanted it.

 __________
If you would like to participate in Five-Minute Fridays, please visit http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/ to find out more.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Procrastination and Clutter

Today's Think Write Thursday prompt is to "write about something you've been putting off doing. We all have those tasks, projects, phone calls and more that we find excuses to avoid. What are you procrastinating about? And why? And, finally, how are you going to address it?"

I'm afraid I've always been a good procrastinator. I've always worked best when a deadline or appointment time are involved.  

A couple of things I've been procrastinating on: the huge decluttering project my home requires, and finishing my novel. The two are in fact connected.

I was about nine years old when my mom returned to university as a part-time student. Our home had always been fairly clutter-free up until that point, but with work and now studying to do, my mom began accumulating papers and books that spread their way across our relatively small space. As I grew and the complexity of my own schooling intensified, I too became a collector of papers and books. And of course I've also always been an avid reader, so bringing home all those library materials didn't help the problem. They might not take up permanent residence, but were merely swapped with replacements on an on-going basis.

Today papers and books make up the majority of my clutter. No sooner do I get an area cleared than it is cluttered again. Though I've read much about various processes for dealing with it, none have yet worked for me on a long-term basis. It's an overwhelming job besides, and I'm the only one who can do it because most of the papers and books are mine. If anyone else tackles it, they'll be in trouble.

Clutter brings another problem in addition to the visual mess. It requires time to maintain, eliminate, rearrange, etc. It also saps mental energy, which is how it's connected to the completion of my novel. Creativity declines when there is no space for it to thrive in. You're always frustrated when you look around and see that there's no place for you to work and your environment is not conducive to the production of creative juices.

How I'm going to address it: I've already determined that the clutter has to shrink considerably. I've posted a number of books for sale on Amazon, though I may end up just donating them to my favourite thrift store. Amazon book sales are just not swift enough to make a noticeable dent on my shelves and surfaces. Perhaps I will create a paper clutter room, gather up all of the offending papers and take thirty minutes a day to go through them and get rid of those that are not absolutely necessary to keep. My husband would toss it all without looking, but I know there are important documents among them, so that doesn't work for me.

It will take a while, I know. I plan to take before and after photos, to show how much better my home looks without all of this paper mess. And if I keep at it, little by little, day after day, eventually (two months? three?), it will go. The trick will be to deal immediately with new papers that enter so that they don't add to the problem. 

No excuses: no one can say s/he doesn't have enough time. We all have the same 24 hours each day that Mother Teresa did, so one person can accomplish as much as s/he sets his/her mind to. Energy might be an issue, especially at this time of year when it is cold and gets dark early, but as you expend the effort and see results, it's difficult not to be invigorated. When you've found momentum, keep going!

Please let me know if you have any tips to share. I need all the help I can get!
___________
To join Think Write Thursday, visit Carole here.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Five-Minute Friday: Control



What is it about being in control that so appeals to us? Is it that we think we can do a better job at running our lives than God can? How’s that working out for you?

I know in my own life that whenever I try to control things, things get out of control. Whether that’s my circumstances or other people or whatever. It just seems to wind up a mess if I’m not working in cooperation with God. This reminds me that I need him, oh, I need him; every hour I need him. 

If I want things to go well (and who doesn’t?), I need to seek God’s wisdom, God’s direction, God’s help. I need to have the Holy Spirit dwelling and working within me. I need to let Christ live his life through me, rather than me trying to live my life ‘for’ him. Every resource I need for godly living is accessible to me when I live this way.


Let’s not be so grasping. Loosen control and see where God leads.

What comes to mind when you think of the word, CONTROL? Share with us in five minutes or less! Visit Kate Motaung's website to join.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

Welcome to another edition of 'Think Write Thursday,' brought to us by Carole & Kat. This week we're asked what our mirror would say if it could talk.

My mirror doesn't lie, so this is what I would hear:

"Girl, I hate to tell you this, but you've put on a few pounds in the last couple of years. It shows on your stomach and your slacks are looking a little tight. And another thing - your highlights are growing out; if you're not ready to go gray, you're going to have to get them done again soon.

"On the plus side, all those physiotherapy exercises are working; your posture's improved. The walking is helping too; I'm starting to see some definition in the right places. Yes, go ahead and smile. Your smile may be your most spectacular feature.

"Go and take the world by storm. You've got this."

Yes, my mirror always tells the truth. It prompts me to take a look at myself and make the better choices I need to as well as to continue doing the positive things I'm doing already. 

Thank you mirror, mirror, on the wall. 
___________

To sign up for Think Write Thursday, visit Carole's blog and subscribe to the weekly prompts.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

If I Were President

Today's Think Write Thursday prompt is to come up with "3 things you would do if YOU were the President of the United States."

1. Seek wisdom

There are so many issues that a president has to be aware of and act on. My first priority would be to seek wisdom and like Solomon plead with God, "give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong" (I Kings 3:9a). 

Like the kings of old, it would be important to me to surround myself with wise advisors as well. I would want people who are knowledgeable, experienced and expert in their fields, and who hold to the highest moral and ethical values in their personal and professional lives.

2. Provide for my people

Obviously running a country is very complex and there are likely no easy fixes. But in "providing for my people," my goal would be to improve the economy (employment, trade, etc.) and eradicate poverty to the best of my ability. I would want to see that everyone had enough quality food to eat, shelter and clothing, health care, education, and a clean environment.

3. Protect my people

Putting out fires
I would create and enforce legislation that protected people from all manner of crime as well as from war and internal and external threats (domestic and foreign terrorism). 



I know this is all very general and rather vague, but I am trying to paint a picture with broad brush strokes. It's a fact that as a Canadian-born person, I have no chance of ever becoming POTUS, and while Prime Minister may technically be within reach, I have no political aspirations. My ego isn't sufficiently large and I lack the competitive streak needed to campaign and debate.

Nice house

Okay, I do have a competitive side, but only when it comes to games like Scrabble and Checkers...

What three things would you tackle if you were President of the United States?
 ____________

Think Write Thursday is brought to us by Carole and Kat. You can link up at Carol's site.