Monday Mood– Grateful

monday mood

It’s the week of Thanksgiving in the US. It’s one day a year we set aside to think about all the things which make us thankful. Indeed, many people on social media do an entire month of gratitude posts. No matter the historical reasons for the holiday or the clear drawbacks of subsequent shopping the day after, I love the idea behind Thanksgiving. I think we need to be grateful every day!

The other day, I went to the grocery store with my kids. We were buying items to fill up for a box to take to our church to give to needy families for the holiday. We were ONLY buying for the box. About half-way through, my daughter wanted cookies. I told her no. She started getting upset and I had to remind her that she has more than enough food. She gets treats probably too frequently. We were here to make this box for the needy and if she couldn’t be grateful then I’d take her home and she wouldn’t get a treat for a week. (Just for total transparency, she would have pitched a holy terror of a fit before we started trying out new medicine for her ADHD. That stuff has made these situations much more typical. All those parenting advice books and articles are actually right when the parts of her brain are speaking to one another.)

The event made me realize that I don’t think I talk with my kids enough about gratitude. It really hit home because it cost $60 to fill up. There were times in my life when $60 was more money than I had for groceries for the full month. There were countless times as a child when I had to rely on food from churches as well as a host of other means of assistance. I wondered about the people who packed those boxes. Did they know what good their food would do? Did they think, maybe, that it was pointless and didn’t make a difference? Did they in frustration think that they pack them every year, month, week and yet people are always asking for more? To whoever those people were all those years ago, or if you’re one donating food now, I want to thank you and tell you to keep it up. You won’t see it. You’ll never even know it. But it DOES make a difference! In those low times in my life, I couldn’t ever imagine having enough so where I could give to others and bless them. However, because other people did give, I had the strength to keep going. My body was nourished and my soul saw the goodness in people. Belief in that goodness has kept my heart afloat long after concerns for food died away. Now, I can give back too.

There’s a million things for me to be thankful for, but this year, I’m most thankful that I can give. What are you most thankful for?

PS: If you’re wanting to know how to give to your community this holiday season, I do recommend asking at your church, a United Way, YMCA, the hospital, or schools. There are many other fine charities as well but you’d have to look more into if they have a location near you. Next on our list is Toys for Tots. I anticipate this could be difficult as the kids might not want to donate whatever fun toy we buy and I will NOT be buying them a toy to soften the blow. For them to truly understand the act of giving, I want them to not get something in immediate return. I know if it’s difficult this year, then next time will be smoother. This will be the first time in several years that we haven’t just moved over the holidays!

Motivational Monday– Slow Progress

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A lot of writers spend November manically trying to write 50,000 words in a month for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). It’s really not so unattainable for the average full-time writer. It averages out to 1667 words a day, which I can do in about an hour. As long as I know what I’m writing… And the hardest part is always the consistency–doing it every day. If you miss a day, then you’re playing catch up and trying to add to it. Miss more than one and it’s even harder etc.

November is a hard month for me. The first time I tried NaNo was in 2014. I had two published stories (well, one was on pre-order). I had completed several other stories before but had never tried to do an entire novel in one month. I got sooo close! If memory serves, I got to 45,000 words and had one day left. I could have made it. However, I was moving literally the next day and my kids–only 4 and 1 at the time–needed a return to normalcy. My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder the fall wreaks havoc on his routine. He shifts from waking up at 6 am to waking up at 5 am. He just turned 8 and by now, I have accepted this. In 2014, I was far less prepared to accept the reality of more 5 am (or earlier) wakeups.

I’m mentioning my history with NaNo because the other day I saw a Facebook status which upset me. It was a memory of one of my status from 2014. I was working on a story in which Darcy was to inherit Longbourn and Lady Catherine’s rector. Essentially, he was Mr. Collins. How would Elizabeth react? About 20,000 words into it, I realized this should just be an original story. I had already started writing the story before November began, so I realized that within a few days of the month. I spent the remainder of the month working on that story and changed all the names and tried to make it not like Pride and Prejudice. Then November ended and I froze. The almost completed manuscript is still on my hard drive.

I didn’t stop there though. I did turn my attention to other things but for the last four years, I have dusted off that manuscript every few months. I’ve sent it to beta readers and asked if it should really be an original. I’ve even thought that I could do both–make an original and keep the premise of Darcy in Collins’ place and write two different stories. In 2016, I came up with a series theme focusing on one real-life event from the Regency era per book. I had a few other non-JAFF stories that would work perfectly in the series. However, I had the most words on this story and it would have been the last one in the series. So I started on what was supposed to be Book One. Last year, I realized that book is really a prequel and they don’t do well until the rest of the series is out. I abandoned that story. Earlier this year, I realized that I should just round out the books and make it the full Regency. I started on the new Book One of the series and gave everything new titles. The Baronet’s Heart is now Tempting Scandal. I began posting but then got caught up with other things.

Can you see why I’m disappointed in myself? So much start and stop. So little progress. But is it really? I have learned a lot about myself, writing, my goals and so much more during each of these stops.

Oh, there’s more that I could be disappointed about. Things never go according to plan. I’m working on 2019 goals right now and know I won’t reach half of them. Sigh. However, this pic has reminded me that forward is forward and looking back at my supposed “failings” doesn’t help a thing!

When is a time you had to focus on just moving forward and not worrying about the timing? Or is there something in your life right now that this could apply to? Oh, and in case you were curious, my goal this November is to write at least 500 words every day! I did miss one, but instead of despairing I just said, “The whole point is to learn to do better and be more consistent. I will make mistakes at the beginning, but hopefully, by the end of the month I will be doing better.” That’s MAJOR progress for me, a perfectionist in recovery!

Monday Motivation– Life is Like a Camera

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Have you heard? Emma Approved is back! I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries years after they came out. LBD is actually my favorite adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Don’t hate me! I think it really gets the point that the book is from Elizabeth’s point of view, that everything is framed in how she sees the world and the people in it and she’s not unbiased. I think it also shows her flaws and prejudices–how she grows. The spin off of Lydia Bennet‘s story shows the emotional abuse that Lydia goes through at the hands of Wickham which I think really adds a new dimension to her. Anyway, by the time I watched LBD, Emma Approved was out but I never watched it. I recently heard they are coming out with a second season so I had to binge Season One.

My kids were around for the last few episodes and we had some interesting conversations. Emma Approved really hones in on Emma’s need for perfectionism. She wants to better the lives of other people. While she’s confident in her abilities, she’s not conceited. Other people can make mistakes and get back up–but if Emma makes a mistake it’s like she wants to flay herself. That’s something that I can relate to so much and so can my kids.

My son has autism and has a very big perfectionism streak. If he even thinks he can’t do something perfect it can trigger a meltdown. Does he communicate it that way? No. With the autism he has trouble with emotional regulation. My daughter has ADHD and possibly Autism as well (we’re in the middle of evaluation for her). She can be so self-critical. She will avoid things that take more effort–which is becoming a lot of school things.

In the final episodes of Emma Approved, Emma crosses a line. Stressed to the max, she loses her filter. Just like Austen’s Emma, she insults Miss Bates. Then…well, then nearly everyone is mad at her and Emma crumples under the wake of disappointing so many people, including those closest to her. I told my kids that I have had to learn the lesson Emma was learning. I had to learn that I was allowed to make mistakes and try again to be better. I asked my son if he felt like he had to be perfect and he said yes. My daughter, always the talkative one, offered without me asking that she gets upset with herself all the time because she can’t write a 2 the correct way and instead always makes an S.

When I found this quote, I knew I wanted to share it on the blog. I think I’ll talk to the kids about this idea too. Remember the best moments, learn from the bad ones, and try again when things don’t turn out. I’d also add that sometimes when things don’t turn out as you wanted, it can still be a perfectly good photo.

What about you? Do you see moments in your life where these words have held true for you?

Music Monday- Neon Love

Beautiful black and white rose with note on the petals

In looking over my previous Music Mondays, I noticed I didn’t have a post that made me think of Northanger Abbey. This song is a little different than I would usually pick but it was suggested by Leenie Brown and I think it really works. I hope you enjoy!

 

There’s a long line up down the street outside
They can roll it up in their daddy’s ride
Like they just got paid, head straight to the valet
No room at the bar you can barely move
People getting bottle service in the corner booth
Sipping $1K champagne, must be somebody’s birthday

And there’s drunk girls in the bathroom
Acting like they’re best friends, talking boyfriends
Yeah you know they do, like grown up high school

Girls looking for a guy with money to blow
Guys looking for a girl they can get back home
Numbers on napkins, shots on shots
Everybody work, work, working what they got
Like the whole room just turned 21
Some looking for forever, some just for fun
All the names are new and the night is young
Everybody in here just falling into neon love
Love (Na na na na, na na na na)

It’s a whiskey kiss, making out like eyes
It’s hands on hips under dark blue lights
Moving slow, in the midnight glow

There’s still drunk girls in the bathroom
Acting like they’re best friends, talking boyfriends
Crying mascara, holding their hair up (Hey!)

Girls looking for a guy with money to blow
Guys looking for a girl they can get back home
Numbers on napkins, shots on shots
Everybody work, work, working what they got
Like the whole room just turned 21
Some looking for forever, some just for fun
All the names are new and the night is young
Everybody in here just falling into neon love
Love (Na na na na) Yeah (Na na na na)
Falling into neon love

There’s drunk girls in the bathroom
Acting like they’re best friends, talking boyfriends
It’s a masquerade, such a wicked game

Girls looking for a guy with money to blow
Guys looking for a girl they can get back home
Numbers on napkins, shots on shots
Everybody work, work, working what they got
Like the whole room just turned 21
Some looking for forever, some just for fun
All the names are new and the night is young
Everybody in here just falling into neon love
Love (Falling into neon love)
Love, just falling into neon love
Love (Na na na na) Love (Na na na na)

Writer(s): JASON MCEWEN, JEFF PARDO, MADELINE MERLO