Sweat and Donuts

Nine days ago, I posted about the upcoming one mile race.

Ta-dah!  It happened last night.

I mentioned that my goals were: to survive the race and keep my bladder intact.

From this standpoint, I was successful.

The background: My husband is the family athlete, but I reluctantly joined the rest of the family in the annual race last year to celebrate being 50 and also because I didn’t have the excuse of a baby to tend anymore.

My time: a wimpy 11 minutes, 3 seconds!!

I think I could have speedwalked more efficiently.

Is there any reason to do it again?

It’s a family event and that is worth something to me.

It feels good to do something beyond my comfort zone and beyond my natural ability.

It’s satisfying to complete something that feels impossible.

Besides all that, a friend rewarded us with amazing donuts on the other side of the finish line.

Is there any reason not to do it again? I have all year to think about that.

~ LisaIMG_20170512_155559

Less is more….creative.

They say that when you have less, you are forced to be more creative.

If you have unlimited art supplies, you think, “Where do I start?”

If you only have a package of flimsy paper plates and some brads, you brainstorm and come up with something unique…like a paper plate skeleton. 

Creativity also thrives in a sparse kitchen. Because we have a big family, our pantry is consistently on the verge of emptiness. This is the perfect environment for innovation.

One day I scrounged a little ham, some rice, cheese and a smattering of fresh and limp vegetables. Strategic marketing made this odd assortment into a memorable dish. I called it Nickelodeon Hash.

When my husband was out of work for several months, our refrigerator was often annoyingly barren. But lunch was never missed. Thinking outside the box one day,  I concocted a casserole of leftover black beans, salsa, rice, scrambled egg and cream cheese.

One spunky child named it “poverty in a pan.” With this innovative title, she proved that an environment of “less” can allow creative juices to flow abundantly.

Hot Gift

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It’s garage sale season.  I load eager children into the monster van. We roll slowly through middle class neighborhoods, seeking signs and cluttered driveways. When we spy a worthy target, we stop, click doors and spill out. Excited fingers jingle and drop quarters while I deliver final instructions.

“We’re not taking home junk.  Just because it’s in the free box doesn’t mean we grab it. Everyone ready?”

Determined little shoppers approach the treasure-filled yard. We nod at the smiling homeowner with one eye on bargains in a corner.

Markie bubbles when he finds something on a sawhorse table. My big-eyed boy approaches, hands behind his back.

“I want to give you this for Mother’s Day.  Will you get it and I’ll pay you back?”

I peer down at a sparkly find on a chain.  The necklace reads “HOT” spelled out in rhinestones.  I nod and smile, suppressing a major giggle.

I remind him that I forget to wear necklaces. My sparse collection of chains sits lonely on a handmade jewelry tree. It’s literally a branch of a tree that my son T.J. mounted on an unfinished wood base.

If I had to choose, I’d pick the branch holder over the jewelry.

“If you don’t want to wear it, you can just let it hang on your branch thing,” he says.

I hug him and smile. “That’s a perfect idea.”

We check out, tote a full bag into the van, ready to attack another driveway.

~ Lisa

Tie It Up: a one minute reflection

I called a friend the other day. 99% of the conversation was me, listening.

Has this ever happened to you?

I got off the phone and thought, “I’m not perfect, but at least I don’t talk as much as she does…”

Two days later, I was the one having tongue troubles— too chatty, too sassy.

Can we ever really control the things we say?

James 3:8 says “…but no human being can tame the tongue.”  When we get angry, competitive or upset, that little muscle called the tongue can do lots of damage.

Consider this idea:  Ask God to tie up your tongue before it gets in trouble. Ask Him to do it every morning, even before you squeeze out the first word of the day.

Dear God,

Control every part of me today; especially my tongue. Tie up my tongue, unless it plans to say something kind, helpful, or healing.

Amen.

Second Mile

My husband enjoys muscle-twisting, sweat-drenching workouts that produce pain and require protein drinks. Part of his athletic portfolio: running local races with the whole family.  For years, I had the excuse of a baby to tend, so I couldn’t participate.  Eventually, that overdue excuse ran out and I signed up against my better judgment for the annual event.

I did it.

Like childbirth, I couldn’t imagine doing it a second time. But it’s May and the race is on my calendar – again.

(That happened with childbirth, too.)

One year the race organizers approached us. Since we were annual participants all from one family, the local news team hoped to feature us. My husband was out of town and couldn’t make it home for the race that spring. Without him, I didn’t embrace the arrival of a news team here at our home to interview and film our training techniques.

I don’t have training techniques.  My goals: to survive the race and keep my bladder intact.

I’ll let you know how that works out for me.

~Lisa

Using Writing Tools

I’m audio-reading Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark. I need to grab a copy of the print book, take notes and apply at home. Audio titles are for car listening and aren’t great for taking notes.

Three excellent quotes that I gained about writing from the intro and first chapters:

  • “Writing is a purposeful craft.”
  • “Writing tools never have to be returned.  They can be cleaned, sharpened and passed along.”
  • “Let your writing flow early; you can reach for a tool later.”

Here are the first three tools, summarized:

1. Begin sentences with subjects and verbs.

2. Place strong words at the beginning and end.

3. Use active, strong verbs 

Once I got used to chopping up my work, sucking out unnecessary words, and strengthening the verbs, it became a satisfying part of writing.  Usually, my draft gets better as it gets smaller.

So, I dug into my files and retrieved some writing samples for practice:

The Heaven Story — original version

My eleven-year-old daughter wrote a story.  She wrote pages and pages; it seemed to flow endlessly and effortlessly.  It was an amazing tale of a girl that went to heaven and came back.  I wondered where she got the idea. When she sat me down to read it aloud, she said, “Now, don’t cry when you hear it, or it will make me cry.”  And, at the end, we both cried. 74 words

The Heaven Story — revised version

My daughter Ava wrote a story. She scribbled pages that narrated a young girl’s round-trip journey to heaven. Where did she get her ideas? We cloistered ourselves. I awaited a private reading of her tale. “Don’t cry — that will make me cry,” she said. She read the story aloud, glanced up, and noticed my wet eyes.  60 words

Just Write.

I hope this blog will nudge me into the world of writing.  I have some simple tools for starting the journey. The more I play with words, the more I realize that I need more stuff in my toolbox. I’m starting here:

  • Simple projects on Upwork. Learning that I am better at re-writing and condensing than creating new content. Through several projects, I have learned to edit, chop and revise my original words.
  • Reading about writing. I started Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. (Umm…as you can see, I borrowed some visual ideas and used them in the first paragraph.)
  • Class on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) last week.  Don’t ask me what SEO is all about, because the class was cancelled 😦  I wanted to participate in the class so I could gain some Upwork projects that required SEO content. Facing reality, I need to refine some basic writing skills before I can dive into that.
  • Beginning an e-book. More soon.

~ Lisa