Men with lists at Walmart

Men with lists at Walmart

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It’s Wednesday. The day before Thanksgiving and I’m at Walmart picking up a prescription. Yes, I’m sick. Feel like crap. I figure I might as well get milk while I’m here even though the pharmacy is at the front of the store and the milk is far, far away at the very back of this huge place.  As I trudge from one end of the store to the other, I notice men with lists. Some alone, but mostly men in pairs.

I spot a dad and teenage boy in the baking aisle. Dad holds the list while the teen searches the selection of instant puddings. “Here’s butterscotch. How many?” he asks. Dad reviews the list, “Says four big boxes.”

A pair of millennial hipsters work both sides of the spice and condiments aisle. “I got the sage,” said one, “Here’s hot sauce,” announced the other. They huddle over the list for a moment before setting off in search of the next item.

Parked in front of the aluminum roasting pans were two stately older black gentlemen.  “Do we need ones with lids?” one wondered out loud. “We’d better find out. I’m calling,” said the other with cell phone in hand.

I felt happy thinking these men happily volunteered to go shopping to help those who are cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It also occurred to me that some might have been handed the list and ordered to get going.  Or maybe some of the men were working their own list and shopping for the meals they are cooking today. It’s all good.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I feel blessed to live in a diverse community. Thank you for not being offended by my use of ethnic descriptions. 


Pain vs. Brain

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Four months ago today, I had surgery to replace my right knee. Everything went great and I’m very happy with the results.

For the first eight weeks after surgery, I regularly took pain pills – oxycodone. I wasn’t concerned with becoming addicted. I believe that pain causes stress which slows down the healing process. But, with all the negative press about opioids – which oxycodone is – I’ve heard many people say they won’t take pain medication. For sure, if you know you have an addictive personality, it’s a wise decision to avoid opioids.

My plan to get caught-up with writing, movies, and reading during my recovery time didn’t happen. The pain medication subdued my brain in so many ways. I didn’t care about food – nothing appealed to me. I lost interest in sex, reading, movies, writing, talking. The oxycodone made me feel calm and kind of numb which was OK during the time I was recovering from major surgery.

My knee still hurts from time to time – it’s part of the healing process going on in there. But, it doesn’t hurt enough to warrant taking pain meds. And, I’m so happy to have my active, crazy, engaged brain back!

To Burn or Not to Burn

dragonsWhat do you do with your old journals? We had a lively discussion on this topic at our writer’s group meeting in December. Should we keep them? Hide them? Save them for all posterity or burn them? There were as many opinions and options as there were people in the group:

  • “My old journals are hidden in a secret place that only my best friend knows. She’s promised that if anything happens to me like I die or I’m in a coma, she will get them and burn them. Not even my husband knows where my journals are.”
  • “I keep all my journals and I hope my niece reads them after I’m gone so she’ll know more about who I really was.”
  • “My sister helped me burn my old journals. We had a ceremony. Watching them burn felt like letting go of pain and trouble and making way for my new happier life.”

Last summer, I read through 15 of my old journals going back almost as many years. Some entries were downright painful –  my feelings of despair and frustration dealing with an abusive boss in a miserable workplace, fears about my impending knee surgery, and worries about my career, money, world peace, etc. I saw no value in saving these entries.

But there were also plenty of entries I deemed valuable – ideas for future articles, blog posts, stories, and art/crafts projects. Notes about car and house repairs, and significant events through the years such as births, deaths, marriages, and health issues. And happy entries like my joyful retirement from that God-awful workplace, my expressions of relief that knee surgery wasn’t so bad after all, and my feelings of satisfaction working for myself.

I cherry-picked entries and typed them into Evernote. Then I threw my journals in the recycle bin. I felt good letting go of the “bad” stuff, saving the good, and seeing empty (temporary) space in my bookcase.

What do you do with your old journals?




I’m grateful because…

tiger-498543_1920-2I am grateful for my health.
I am grateful that I am healthy.
I am grateful because I am healthy.

You may be one of those people who writes about gratitude every day. If you do, here’s a suggestion – add the word “because.”

After many years of writing my daily gratitude list, I got bored. I suspect that your gratitude list and mine are similar. Of course, we’re grateful for family and friends, our home, pets, health, job, etc. All boring expected expressions  of gratitude, blah, blah, blah. So I started adding “because” to give depth and meaning to my gratitude, to drill down to the reason why I’m grateful. For example:

  • Today I’m grateful for my husband because he’s purposely watching TV in the bedroom with the door closed so I can write in peace in the kitchen.
  •  I’m grateful for the beautiful weather today because I want to spruce up the planter in the front yard.
  • And, I’m grateful for my new neighbors because they’re friendly and so are their three big dogs.

My daily gratitude list is more defined because I’m stating why. Every day, I’m grateful for my husband because

10 ways to squeeze in 10 minutes

ostriches-838976_1920 (2)Here in the States, we just celebrated Thanksgiving Day. It’s a busy week of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and visitors. My sister, her four adult children and their children came for the week. We had so much fun! But it was a challenge to write for 10 minutes every day with so much company. And, in the midst of all the activities, I got a great idea for a fictional character and a scene for a book or short story. So I had to write! I had to squeeze in 10 minutes between the cooking, shopping, playing, talking, visiting, etc. You can too:

  1. Add 10 minutes to your day by setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual.
  2. Write at the kitchen counter while you’re waiting for the water to boil or the potatoes to cook or the rolls to get burned – I mean browned. (I learned that 10 minutes is too long for rolls to be in the oven!)
  3. Lock yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes. (Note: this doesn’t work very well if you have children in the house because they see the closed bathroom door as their opportunity to have a conversation with you!)
  4. Sit in your vehicle in a well-lit parking lot at the mall or the grocery store and write for 10 minutes.
  5. Or, sit in your vehicle in your driveway or parking lot and write for 10 minutes.
  6. Invite your company to go with you to the library or a coffee shop where you can write for 10 minutes while they read or enjoy a snack.
  7. Write while your mother/sister/husband/niece/nephew is talking. Look up occasionally or nod your head to appear as if you’re paying attention.
  8. Announce that you’re going to take a 30-minute nap. Write for 10 minutes; sleep for 20.
  9. Ask whoever you’re with to write for 10 minutes with you. My sister Becky and write together and sometimes we read what we wrote out loud.
  10. Before you turn in for the night and go to sleep, turn off the television, tablet, computer, smartphone and then write for 10 minutes.

I’m re-reading “How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 21 Days That Readers LOVE!” by Steve Scott. He writes for 2-hours every day and tells how he does it in this book. Someday…

Re-write for 10 minutes


Here’s a photo posted on by one of my favorite websites/apps/editing program – So, yeah, you don’t have to write new copy for 10 minutes every day. Re-write something you’ve written already. Re-write your to-do list, your long-term goals, or your business plan. Re-write your About Me, bio,or resume. Look back through your journals and pick an entry or two to re-write and expound upon. Like most writers, you’ve probably got a few unfinished stores or articles in your files. Whip them out and write for 10 minutes.

I only have 10 minutes

squirrel-567858_1920 (2)I only have 10 minutes to write today so please excuse my unedited rambling. Sometimes this happens when you write for 10 minutes every day – you just write – without editing, correcting, changing. You write quickly, off the top of your head, in the now.  I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now  (I know, I know, everybody’s read it already). He explains why and how to live in the now. So today I’m writing in the now – not about the past or the future, just what’s going on in my head at this moment – which is dinner – whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce and zucchini. We’re having an early dinner and then going to our writer’s group.

Sometimes when you write for 10 minutes every day, it’s not what you write that matters, it’s that you write at all.