New Year, New Retreat: How’d I Do?

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Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? How did I do this weekend?

I’ve reproduced the quixotic list I put on the New Year, New Retreat post. I think I knew as soon as I hit publish that the list was a bit grandiose for the amount of time I had left in the weekend. It was too much to get done in half a weekend. Half of the list has been on a list in some form or other for the past six months. I did get some of it done, though! And as I went back through my notes and thought about it, I did pretty well. Here are the results:

1. Set up editorial calendar for the next three months from my personal Book of Days.

DONE

2. Finish planning and research the rest of the tea series for January.

DIDN’T EVEN TOUCH IT

3. Plan out Election Connection through Leap Day.

TENTATIVELY PLANNED WITH PRIMARY DATES AND MOST RESOURCES

4. Write stories from Canada that I’ve been meaning to write since the summer.

I DID ONE.

5. Wales book outline.

STARTED A LIST, NOT NECESSARILY IN ORDER

6. Labyrinth book outline.

DONE-ISH

So, actually not bad with the admission that I did some finishing touches this afternoon between grocery shopping and a church activity. And I now have some things to concentrate on for the next few weeks.

Happy New Year!

New Year, New Retreat

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My first retreat of the year. A weekend devoted to writing memoir. I’m glad that it’s occuring at the end of the first full week of January. As you know from my previous writing and posts, I try to assess my life, goals, and writing at various times throughout the year and recalibrate. And coming at the traditional New Year, after all the major holidays are winding down and finished, January is always a good time to reassess nearly everything.

From past experiences, I know that this weekend’s retreat will be prayerful, but in addition to that it is primarily a writing weekend. This is the first retreat that I’ve brought my computer to, partly because it’s a newly acquired computer, and partly since it was offered as an option for our writing this weekend. I hesitated because despite my bringing my Kindle on retreats, I still try to unplug and get back to basics, but here I am: pad, pen, headphones, and computer.

I feel like this is an opportunity to jump start my commitment to writing, whether here on Griffins and Ginger Snaps or my ongoing book projects, journaling or what have you that I keep listing on assorted organizing apps. As I prepared for this weekend, I considered what I might want to accomplish before I returned home on Sunday afternoon. I don’t want to overwhelm myself with a to-do list or unrealistic expectations, but I also want to get things done. I’ve started a few ongoing series that I want to keep fresh and consistent. Talking about my Election Connection series on Twitter got me two likes (one from Alyssa Mastromonaco and one from Jon Favreau), and as you may remember, I collect likes just as I used to collect autographs when I was a kid. It was thrilling to get that small acknowledgement from two people I respect so much. But I digress.

As I thought about this weekend, made my packing lists, and prepared my mind, I really wanted to put a spotlight on my priorities and my intentions, and the three things that immediately came to me was

spiritual
political
writing.

This weekend allows me to remind myself that my writing is so many things for me. It is a creative outlet of course as it gives me space to express myself, my thoughts and beliefs. It lets me share with others and absorb new ideas. It is therapy. It is spiritual, prayerful even.

What do I want from this weekend and this ongoing year?

Do I really know?

Spiritually: Well, I definitely want to increase my spirituality and my faith. I want to use what I learned on my Cursillo weekend more consistently and routinely; pursuing persistently.

Politically: I want to encourage friends, family, and strangers that being political is life-saving. It is life-empowering. While politics can seem a far off, abstract, divisive, talking aimlessly without really listening, doesn’t affect me in real life, it actually affects our daily lives and trying to respond to that and protect ourselves from the current climate of racism, lies, and disinformation (propaganda) is all of our responsibilities; to ourselves and to each other. This is an election year. Well, they all are, but this presidential one has serious ramifications and consequences. The GOP is taking away Americans’ health care, women’s autonomous rights, LGBT+ rights, fair and free elections, and so much more that I can’t even get it all out without screaming into the void. I will not be silent.

Writing and Publishing: I want to write. Well. Constantly. Consistently. Be published. Finish a project and then start another one.

This retreat is one way, the first step to get that focus, write what I need to write, what I want to write, center on my personal priorities, set up my writing, schedule my goals and subjects, and just get shit done. And it’s only the start of what could be a great year.

I arrived here on Friday night in the dark amid a mixture of rain and sleet. It was cold, but I was pleasantly warm once I entered the building. I was greeted by familiar faces and the hushed tones of others settling into their rooms. I expected to be assigned my regular room, the one I had requested, and was taken aback and surprised to be given a different one. Simultaneously a short, internal struggle and confusion took place while outwardly, I took it in stride. As much as you read my rants, I’m not much of a complainer, and this new room was just as comfortable as my regular one, just as close to the bathroom, and included a recliner next to the window. I checked out this different recliner in this different room, which was mainly what I was looking forward to in the old one. This one was blue, rather than red, and slightly too close to the wall (which I rectified immediately), and it worked out just as well, just as comfortable, and after unpacking and settling in, I sat down, reclined, and got out my kindle. Before long, it was time to meet the group I’d be spending my weekend with. As an aside, after lunch, my intention to write was undermined by the comfort of the chair as it put me to sleep, easily for an hour. I was lucky that I set an alarm or I would have missed the next session.

Three things I noticed that were unusual for a retreat weekend: First, I made dinner (homemade chicken pot pie, and it was delicious) and ate before I left for the retreat center. We often grab something on the go or I eat in my room while my husband takes the kids to Sonic or McDonald’s. Second, I brought my computer, which made me feel odd at first. I’ll get used to it, but it’s such a different mindset to be in. And, third, I’m in a different room (which I may have mentioned), and that will take a little time to adjust to.

Morning brings bright sunshine to make up for the night rain, warm oatmeal, inspired daily readings, book recommendations for writing and for writing memoir, prompts, and then writing. What’s seemingly wonderful is the time given to write, think, pray, rest; whatever needs to be in order to get the mind in the writing place. There are no wrong answers. A bottle of soda, a handful of M&Ms, reading my devotional, listening to Saturday’s Lovett or Leave It, also the first for 2020, stepping out into the cold courtyard for a moment of fresh air. Inspiration is everywhere. Motivation, however…

How will I tackle two sessions before mass, and one after? Will lists be enough? Will focusing on three separate topics keep me going? And once this weekend is finished, how will I keep the momentum moving forward?

I’ll leave you with a list of what I plan for the rest of the weekend, and I’ll check in on Monday (another “New Year”) with what I actually got done, word counts, new words learned (thesaurus.com is a lifesaver), and other motivation that I hope you can use for your own writing or New Year’s goals.

1. Set up editorial calendar for the next three months from my personal Book of Days.

2. Finish planning and research the rest of the tea series for January.

3. Plan out Election Connection through Leap Day.

4. Write stories from Canada that I’ve been meaning to write since the summer.

5. Wales book outline.

6. Labyrinth book outline.

Book News

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​This update was supposed to appear at the end of last week. Unfortunately, chaos happened. Taking down the tree, planning my daughter’s sleepover birthday party, avoiding politics and failing all contributed to not completing my writing the way I wanted it to.

I did manage in the days before the chaos to get some introductions and background info on both House and Wales. They are by no means complete, and they’re barely first drafts, but they are something and I plan on continuing little by little. These updates not only get the job done, it gets it started and it gives me something to post on those biweekly Fridays.

Stay on track and Accountability.

Continue reading

Election Reflection – The New Administration and Accountability

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​I know that for a long time I didn’t write about politics. I’ve always been a political junkie. I can’t get enough of the news shows. I was on a first name basis (in my mind) with the likes of Peter Jennings, David Brinkley, Brian Williams. I would shout out comments at the television, ask questions, and generally need to know everything.

That  changed at the end of 2012. I was tired of the stress, of the politics, of the partisanship that came from the GOP. I know that there are some who say that the Democrats are just as partisan, but that’s just not true. We compromise. We compromise because the prize that we eye is the greater good. We do what’s best for the country. Take a quick look at the last eight years and especially the last year of President Obama’s term and how disrespectful Senator Mitch McConnell was. Even today, as Democrats are taking pages from his playbook, he, and his cronies whine about how we need to respect and unify with the President, despite the way they treated President Obama. I wouldn’t treat my dog that way, and now they have the nerve to ask of us what they were unwilling to do?

I’m not an obstructionist, but I won’t sit idly by and watch those hypocrites tear this country apart.

That said, I hope everyone is watching this first week of President Trump’s Administration. His staff is parading him out like a circus animal and he’s letting them. I do understand that each new Administration has its own priorities and executive orders are the beginning. They certainly were with Presidents Bush and Obama, but I don’t recall there being multiple ones daily. His base is cheering, but it is us, the opposition who are rising up and protesting. We’re saying NO MORE.

And it’s working.

Somewhat.

They tried to gut the ethics committee. We said NO. We used our voices. We. The. People.

They tried to silence the science community in the government. We said NO. They rescinded the gag order.

Senator John McCain has said no torture. We’re with him on that.

Senator Schumer said no rubber stamps on the Supreme Court. If they’re not  bipartisan, they should vote no. Replacing Scalia isn’t the problem; it’s the rest of the retiring justices.

I am trying not to rant. I will continue to try not to rant. It’s not easy.

How many things has President Trump gone back on from his campaign so far this first week?

How can we let him reinstate DAPL when he’s an investor? This is a direct benefit to him. He is not divested in his business. That can’t go on.

Canceling the National Endowment for the Arts? It’s pennies.

Voter Fraud? The only voter fraud I’ve heard of was the Republican who tried to vote twice and the President’s advisor, Steve Bannon, who is registered in two states.

Banning Muslims when most of our terrorists recently are homegrown?

Forget causation; it’s not even correlation.

Scientists are planning on a protest at the nation’s capital. We’re arguing about science. Science.

There is no such thing as alternative facts. Facts are facts are facts are facts. The alternative is a lie. How can we teach our children right from wrong when this is the example they’re seeing.

My daughter asked me before the election about being forced to have a baby. She was ten. I told her the truth. No one would force her to have a baby if she doesn’t want one as long as I’m alive. Her response? What about when you’re gone?

She asked about World War III two nights ago.

My twelve-year-old son asked about 1984. I told him I think we have it in the basement, and he should check and read it. If not, we can get it for him to read. He’s not quite sure what it means, but he knows that people are talking about it and it is something to think about and ask about.

Last night, while we were getting ready for bed, watching Brian Williams’ The 11th Hour, she commented that she couldn’t understand or believe that girls were still fighting to be equal to boys. She doesn’t get it.

Frankly, neither do I.

We can’t belittle the President. We can’t pick on his spelling errors. We absolutely can’t disparage his youngest son who didn’t ask for this. We need to pick our battles. We need to pick the right ones, and we need to keep his feet to the fire.

We must hold him and his administration accountable. When they violate the Constitution as they’ve done this past week, we must call it out.

We must.

We will not go back. Not any of us.

Stand up. Speak out. Rise up.

This is everyone’s fight because it is everyone’s country.

If there are things happening that you simply do not understand, which I get; it’s a lot to ask for people to pay attention to the nitty-gritty of this daily, I would recommend Vox.com. They have a very good way of explaining what’s going on. Try them out. I find them fair.

Self-Reassurance. Maybe.

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I’ve spent most of today off of the computer. Even if I’m writing, I’d still stop and check tumblr and Facebook.

Still cleaning up papers, making plans in my notebook. I even set up an accountability log – never doing this is always so discouraging when I want to check how I’ve been doing.

I’m still upbeat even though worried about friends. I know they’re doing well and they know how to find me if they need me (not p-a at all – more in line with reassuring myself that I’m valued and silence doesn’t mean rejection – now if I can only remember this when I’m not upbeat.)

I finished series 1 of Sherlock. Really enjoyed it. I’ll start series 2 tomorrow as a reward if I do the 2 writing assignments I’ve given myself.

Tonight is watching Green Lantern with the family and getting back to my book.

Forty Days of Writing

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As I finish my first Lenten season, I decided that with two days left I would look over the writing commitment that I made for these forty days.

I was pretty impressed with myself, and while I will pat myself on the back, I want to recommit to writing more and consistently.

So far (and I hope to add to this before Monday), I’ve written 31 things – some essays, some random prompts, some fan fiction and meta analysis, some religious context. They break down as follows:

1 multi-vignette improv writing for a subfandom of the Harry Potter fandom (this is a quick fire, random prompts, write as many as you can in two – three hours. I wrote about 1600 words)
1 homework for my Memoir Workshop (this does not include the assignments in the class, only what I did outside of class)
4 Others – one was a writing resource for my class, one was a birthday letter to my friend that I shared here, one was a random prompt from my collection from Sarah Selecky and one was a riff on a jacket I found and how it made me feel.
16 either fan fiction or meta for the Supernatural fandom

Total words: 33,137!

The theme for this season’s Memoir workshop is transformation, something that you know I have been going through for a long time now and expect to continue to go through for a while to come, so I am very excited for not only the in class prompts, but for the homework as well. I expect to share most of that here.

ETA: 4/1/13: Including my last writing for the Lenten season (Easter Sunday: The Journey Continues), my word total is: 35,179. I am very pleased and hope to keep it up.